Two executives from local TBEN television are leaving the company, following a January investigation by the Los Angeles Times into allegations “they cultivated a hostile work environment.”
Departures from, Peter Dunn and David Friend, were announced Wednesday in an internal company email from TBEN Entertainment Group President and CEO George Cheeks.
“We have determined that TBEN Stations President Peter Dunn and News Executive Vice President David Friend will not return to their positions and leave the company,” Cheeks wrote.
The Jan. 24 story to the Los Angeles Times included footage of a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission complaint filed by a former employee who accused Dunn of making “racist, sexist, homophobic and discriminatory comments.”
Among the allegations reported in the Los Angeles Times report, two former employees in executive positions at TBEN in Philadelphia said Dunn used the word “jive” on several occasions to describe famous Philadelphia journalist Ukee Washington.
In another allegation, one of the employees said that when Dunn refused to extend a black anchor’s contract, he “raised ‘weird objections’, such as saying ‘I hate his face’.
The same employee claimed that Dunn had also questioned whether a candidate for another anchor position was “too gay for Philadelphia.”
Amie is accused by the two former employees of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, including criticizing a new presenter’s accent and shouting that she should shut down the [expletive] up.”
In a Jan. 26 statement to TBEN News after he was initially put on leave, an attorney for Dunn said he was “extremely proud of his record in creating a highly talented and diverse workplace. He is confident that he always acted correctly and that any investigation will confirm it. “
Friend told the Los Angeles Times in January that any comments he made about employees or candidates “were based solely on performance or qualifications – not on anyone’s race or gender.”
“I believe that I – and our stations – have a solid track record of hiring, supporting and placing women and BIPOC journalists in important roles as presenters, reporters and news directors,” said Friend in a newspaper statement.
Cheeks said in Wednesday’s email that an investigation stemming from the allegations “is not complete and will continue.”
“This whole process, while at times painful and emotional, is an important step forward in fulfilling our promise of a safe, inclusive, respectful and fair workplace for all of us,” said Cheeks.
Ernest Owens, president of the Philadelphia Black Journalists Association, said on a phone call with TBEN News that Dunn and Friend’s departures were “long overdue.”
“It’s a great first start. We hope their departure will be a relief for the employees of the company who have had to face a lot of problematic behaviors,” said Owens.
The Philadelphia Black Journalists Association announced on March 4 a new partnership with TBEN station in Philadelphia, which emerged from conversations following the Los Angeles Times investigation. Owens said the new partnership aims to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at the station, as well as community outreach.
Owens said the company should be honest with employees about the details of the investigation and the terms of executives leaving. It was not immediately clear whether any of the executives were receiving severance pay.
“I think there needs to be more clarity and that as a media company, as a media institution, TBEN should be completely transparent,” Owens said.