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“SEAL Team” writer sues CBS for allegedly discriminating against him as a straight white man

Script coordinator and freelance writer Brian Beneker claims that a showrunner told him he couldn't be hired because he "did not check any diversity boxes."

A script coordinator and freelance screenwriter who penned three episodes of the CBS military drama SEAL Team is suing the network and its parent company, Paramount Global, alleging that he was discriminated against as a straight white man and denied a staff writing job.

In a complaint filed Thursday in California federal court, attorneys for plaintiff Brian Beneker argue that CBS' diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts have "created a situation where heterosexual, white men need 'extra' qualifications (including military experience or previous writing credits) to be hired as staff writers [on SEAL Team] when compared to their nonwhite, LGBTQ, or female peers, who require no such 'extra' qualifications."

Beneker is being represented by America First Legal, a conservative nonprofit founded by former Trump White House policy aide Stephen Miller.

CBS declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Cliff Lipson/CBS The cast of 'SEAL Team'
Cliff Lipson/CBS The cast of 'SEAL Team'

According to the complaint, Beneker was hired as script coordinator for the show's first season in 2017 and offered the opportunity to write an episode in the show's second season as a freelance writer. However, Beneker alleges that the showrunner required him to quit his script supervisor position to write for the show, which he agreed to do, and his episode ultimately made it to air. Beneker also claims that he agreed to train his replacement script supervisor: "a woman without any experience" who quit two weeks into training, which led to Beneker being rehired in his old position.

The suit goes on to allege that Beneker was repeatedly turned down for staff writing positions between 2019 and 2024, stating that "a black male who had no previous writing credits and little substantial experience," "a black woman with no major writing credits," "a female writer's assistant with no prior writing credits," and "two female writer's assistants, without any writing credits" (one a Black woman, one a lesbian) were all hired for staff writer positions instead of Beneker.

The complaint also claims that another showrunner "indicated the reason Beneker could not be brought on as a staff writer was that he did not check any diversity boxes, thus confirming that the Defendants deliberately discriminated against Beneker on the basis of his race, sex, gender, and sexual orientation."

Heneker is seeking damages of an "amount exceeding $500,000" for lost salary, and also wants to be offered a full-time job as a producer.

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