SAN DIEGO — A former African-American employee of San Diego-based One America News Network, who claimed the network fired him for lodging complaints of racial harassment in the workplace, was awarded $810,000 in punitive damages Thursday by a San Diego jury.
Jonathan Harris was also awarded nearly $290,000 in compensatory damages earlier this week, bringing his total damages to nearly $1.1 million in his civil suit against the network and its parent company, Herring Networks.
Harris, who worked as a booking producer, alleged he was routinely harassed because of his race and liberal political views by network CEO Robert Herring Sr., as well as Graham Ledger, the host of OANN’s “The Daily Ledger.”
Harris alleged in court documents that he brought up his allegations to Herring and others. During that meeting, he alleged Herring stormed out of the room and that he was fired within 24 hours.
On Monday, jurors ruled that Harris was not discriminated against because of his race, but did find that his racial discrimination complaint played a substantial role in his firing.
A defense trial brief alleged Harris’ work performance was declining near the time of his firing and that shortly after lodging his complaint with management, he deleted a number of files on his work computer necessary to the production of “The Daily Ledger.”
Harris claims those documents were daily show notes that were no longer needed and he was free to delete, per company policy. He alleged the company used the document deletion as an excuse to fire him, while the true motivation was retaliation for the complaint he’d lodged less than a day earlier.