Jose Lambiet

Photographer sues CBS4, links demotion to insulting Jim DeFede

A black Muslim photographer just filed a lawsuit against CBS4 Miami, his employer of 26 years, alleging religious, racial and age discrimination.

In an only-in-Miami twist, plaintiff Wilfred Ardley, aka Muhamad Hassan, says he was demoted for calling CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede “fat” and making him look big on camera.

Court records show Ardley, 57, who first was hired by WFOR in 1989, filed the suit March 23 in a Miami-based federal court.

A former Florida A&M football star, Ardley claims there’s been a pattern of discrimination against him since then, something that caused “stress” and “emotion discomfort.”

He cited that a colleague asked, “What’s wrong with your people?” when Muslims were in the news. Ardley said he was also asked if he was going to “shoot up the place” and was treated differently from other workers when he raised his voice “to get a point across.”

“The Plaintiff was asked to immediately calm down the minute he would raise his voice in an argument,” the lawsuit reads.

The way Ardley saw it, things got bad enough for him to request several times “cultural sensitivity” seminars.

A large part of the complaint, meanwhile, centers around investigative reporter DeFede, 54.

Ardley claims he was asked to “protect DeFede’s figure” by “filming him in the right angles.” The complaint asserts that Ardley complied the best he could.

But eventually, Ardley was asked into a meeting with supervisors where he says he was accused of calling DeFede fat. Ardley was reassigned afterwards to another news department but now says the DeFede excuse really hides the true reasons for his demotion.

Those include his complaints about the newsroom’s alleged religious and racial insensitivity.

Ardley wants punitive damages, the lawsuit reads.

“The complaint filed by Muhamad Hassan, who continues to be employed by our station, is meritless,” CBS4 General Manager Adam Levy wrote in an email.

Peter Hoogerwoerd, Ardley’s attorney, wrote in his email: “We decline to comment about ongoing litigation ... Damages for emotional distress are typically recoverable in employment discrimination cases.”