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Pakistani reporter suing CNN for racial discrimination

LONDON: A former CNN reporter is suing the news channel for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination after she was severely injured while on assignment in Israel.

Saima Mohsin was left disabled after an accident while reporting from Jerusalem on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Her cameraman ran over her foot in a car, causing severe tissue damage that has left the British-Pakistani journalist struggling to sit, stand and walk or return to work full-time, According to an article in The Guardian.

After the incident in 2014 the foreign correspondent claims she requested alternative duties and support for rehabilitation but CNN refused. She also alleges that she asked CNN if she could switch to a presenting role in order to reduce the amount of time spent travelling but was told “you don’t have the look we are looking for”. Three years later the channel terminated her contract.

She said she had decided to bring the employment tribunal claim, which is due to be heard in London on Monday, because the network had failed to support her after the life-changing injury. “I worked hard to become an international correspondent and loved my job with CNN. I risked my life many times on assignment for CNN believing they would have my back. They did not.”

Mohsin’s claim also alleges race and disability discrimination, as well as a complaint about the gender pay gap at CNN. She claims she was denied high profile on-air opportunities, with managers choosing to put white American correspondents on air even when she was ready to go live on the ground. 

CNN declined to comment on the allegations. The broadcaster is opposing the claim on territorial grounds, arguing that the terms of Mohsin’s contract mean she does not have the right to bring a case in London.

The case comes at a tricky time for the broadcast news network, which has made deep job cuts and is dealing with the fallout from a number of scandals, missteps and struggling ratings in its core US market. Longtime boss Jeff Zucker left last year over a relationship with a colleague, while his replacement Chris Licht lasted only a year before being sacked. The news channel also finds itself in the middle of a corporate restructuring at parent company Warner Bros Discovery.

Mohsin now presents programmes for Sky News on a freelance basis and has made a programme for ITV about the pain of living with invisible disabilities. She is being represented by barristers Paras Gorasia and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, who also acted for cricketer Azeem Rafiq in his claim against Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The presenter said her claim raised important questions about journalist safety and the treatment of women of colour in journalism: “This should cause concern for all foreign correspondents who travel around the world – and take risks to do their journalism in the belief their employer will take care of them.

“I’m also taking the opportunity to highlight the racism and gender pay gap issues that I experienced. I was repeatedly let down and denied the ability to achieve my potential while I was at CNN. I am bringing my claim to take a stand and call for change to ensure women journalists, and women journalists of colour, are better protected”.

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