In October, Warner Bros. promptly shuttered Korean Drama (or K-Drama) subscription service DramaFever — ostensibly amid a reorganization of parent company AT&T’s digital properties, after the phone giant acquired entertainment goliath Time Warner for $85 billion last June.
But now, DramaFever’s former VP of finance, Chung Chang, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the Southern District of New York, alleging anti-Asian discrimination and claiming new information about the shutdown.
In his lawsuit, Chang alleges that DramaFever shuttered because it had failed to properly license music in certain programming, reports The Los Angeles Times, and thus was seeking to limit its legal exposure. Chang also alleges that even though he was not involved in licensing during his three-year tenure at DramaFever and did not participate in assessing the subsequent legal situation, the company falsely blamed him for it. (To this end, the suit also cites WarnerMedia’s decision to shutter Machinima and completely wipe its YouTube channel as evidence that it was coping with copyright concerns).
Chang’s suit also states that WarnerMedia was prejudicial in the staff cuts that resulted from DramaFever’s closure, claiming that the company laid off “every high-level Asian American employee of DramaFever, including Plaintiff Chang, while sparing high-level white employees.”
The suit also states that top white executives engaged in racially-charged comments. One unidentified staffer, for instance, reportedly expressed amazement that four Asian-American members of the DramaFever team did not speak English with accents. Additionally, Chang claims that CEO Patty Hirsch expressed a preference for hiring white executives; when he expressed these concerns to others at the company, Chang says he was stripped of many work responsibilities.
“The claims in this case are without merit,” WarnerMedia spokesman Paul McGuire told The Los Angeles Times in a statement. “We will vigorously defend ourselves and we expect to prevail.”