Posted on May 30, 2024

CBS Defends Diversity Hiring on ‘SEAL Team’ From ‘Anti-White Discrimination’ Suit

Gene Maddaus, Variety, May 23, 2024

CBS filed a motion Thursday to throw out a lawsuit challenging its diversity hiring practices for writers on the show “SEAL Team,” arguing that it has a First Amendment right to hire who it wants.

Brian Beneker, the longtime script coordinator on the show, sued in February, arguing that he had been repeatedly passed over for writing jobs because he is a straight, white man.

Beneker has the backing of America First Legal, which is run by Stephen Miller, an adviser to former President Trump. The organization has sought to challenge diversity, equity and inclusion programs — which it terms “anti-white discrimination” — in the entertainment industry and elsewhere in corporate America.

In its motion, CBS argued that it has a constitutional right to decide who will speak on its behalf, which supersedes anti-discrimination law.


In 2020, CBS set a goal of having Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) representation reach 40% in its writers rooms in 2021-22 and 50% in 2022-23.

A report by the Writers Guild of America West found that BIPOC writers made up 37% of overall TV series staffing in 2020, up from 13.6% a decade earlier.

Beneker’s lawsuit alleged that CBS’s goal amounted to an illegal hiring quota. The suit alleged that white, heterosexual men needed “extra qualifications” to be hired as staff writers, such as military experience or previous writing credits, compared to nonwhite, female or LGBTQ writers, who did not need such qualifications.

The suit alleged that the hiring policy violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit seeks an order barring CBS from implementing the policy, and requiring the show to hire Beneker as a producer.