Producer Sues Al Roker’s Company for Alleged DEI Policy Violations and Retaliation

In a controversial lawsuit, Bill Schultz, a prominent producer known for his work on “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” alleges that Al Roker Entertainment and its subsidiary WeatherHunters, Inc. wrongfully terminated his employment after he advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies. Schultz, who is white, asserts he was dismissed for his efforts to support staff of color in the television industry.

Background of the Dispute

Schultz has a notable history in the entertainment industry, contributing to successful projects like children’s cartoons “Ed, Edd, and Eddy” and “Courage the Cowardly Dog.” His lawsuit, filed recently and reported by The Hollywood Reporter, centers on his involvement with “Weather Hunters,” a children’s animated series developed for PBS. Schultz claims he was instrumental in creating and planning the series, which aims to retain 100% ownership under Al Roker’s control.

Diversity Initiatives and Allegations

“Weather Hunters” was designed to appeal to a diverse audience, particularly targeting Black viewers, and included a PBS-mandated DEI clause to hire more writers of color. However, Schultz alleges that Al Roker Entertainment and WeatherHunters undermined these diversity efforts. According to the lawsuit, management at the companies employed tactics that sidestepped DEI policies by hiring non-BIPOC writers under the guise that writers of color were less experienced and would delay production.

Schultz’s Claims

The lawsuit details that Schultz was committed to the diversity mandate from PBS, actively seeking to staff the project with a diverse group of creators. He accuses the companies of creating obstacles to DEI efforts, asserting that management labeled the use of BIPOC individuals as burdensome. Schultz contends that instead of hiring BIPOC writers for authentic input, the strategy was to have non-BIPOC writers draft stories and then bring on BIPOC writers merely to add “flavor” to make the scripts appear culturally authentic—a practice he describes as deceptive and offensive.

Outcome and Demands

Schultz alleges that when he raised these concerns, including directly to Al Roker and the production management, he was subsequently fired in February 2024 for purported contract breaches which he claims were falsified. His firing, he argues, was a form of retaliation for opposing the company’s handling of DEI policies.

Now, Schultz is seeking justice through legal means, demanding a trial by jury and seeking damages of at least $10 million for what he claims was wrongful termination in retaliation for his support of racial diversity and inclusion within the production.

The case highlights ongoing challenges and controversies surrounding DEI efforts in the entertainment industry, reflecting broader national conversations about race, representation, and fairness in media.

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