A white executive who claims she was the victim of racial discrimination has filed a discrimination case against Nas’s co-founded label, Mass Appeal.

A racial discrimination complaint was filed against Nas’s company Mass Appeal by Melissa Cooper. A white former head of development and documentary producer. Due to the nature of the claims, Cooper and her lawyers at Pechman Law Group filed the case in a federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. It specifically names the parties’ races.

According to the lawsuit, Cooper was subjected to discrimination by business leaders who terminated her employment. “Created a hostile work environment,” and removed her from many high-value projects. A lot of the accusations center on a documentary that will be shown on Hulu next year called Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told. The video is about an HBCU picnic that became significant to Atlanta culture. Cooper serves as the movie’s executive producer.

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Executives at Mass Appeal named in the case include Jenya Meggs, the senior VP for partnerships and content acquisition, who is Black, and Peter Bittenbender, the company’s white CEO who also serves as an executive producer on Freaknik. Nas is a partner at Mass Appeal, which is mentioned in the complaint, even though he isn’t named as a defendant there.

With nearly two decades of television expertise, Cooper has worked on numerous programs with Black heroes and themes. Meggs is a former content producer for Apple Music and executive producer of the BET George Floyd special. She is not an executive producer on Freaknik.

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The majority of the complaint is based on text exchanges between Meggs and another Black executive producer from Freaknik who is not employed by Mass Appeal. Meggs expresses her displeasure that Cooper, a white woman, is working on the project rather than her.

“The racial animosity reflected in the text messages is simply breathtaking,” says Louis Pechman, Cooper’s attorney. Cooper was the target of “venomous and racist comments about ‘white folk’ and ‘crackers,'” according to the lawsuit.

Meggs becomes increasingly irate at Bittenbender’s refusal to hire a candidate she recommended to the business. Later, concerns surface about Meggs supposedly pressuring Mass Appeal to appoint a friend of hers to an HR role in order to act as “an unbiased mediator” and mediate disputes between Cooper and herself on different initiatives.

The lawsuit claims that once Meggs informed Bittenbender that she could no longer collaborate with Cooper, Bittenbender fired Cooper from a number of projects that Meggs was employed on, including Mass Appeal’s Hip-Hop 50 Live Concert at Yankee Stadium. Cooper was “effectively stripped of her primary role at Mass Appeal” as a result.

Cooper received word that she was being let go in June. According to the lawsuit, earlier that month, the plaintiff claimed that Bittenbender and the corporation had ignored her allegations of racial discrimination.


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