The Supreme Court yesterday let stand a decision upholding Newsweek magazine's dismissal of Samuel F. Yette, who was its first black Washington correspondent.
The decision, handed down by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in March, was that Yette had "failed to produce evidence that would support findings of instances of racial discrimination."
Now a columnist for the Afro-American newspapers and a journalism professor at Howard University, Yette went to work for Newsweek in early 1968. The magazine fired him in late 1971.
Soon afterward, Yette filed a complaint with the District's Office of Human Rights attributing the dismissal to racial discrimination. The commission upheld the complaint, 3 to 0, and awarded him damages of $1,000 and attorney's fees of $20,000.
Reversing the commission, the appellete court said the reason for the firing was "unsatisfactory" work by Yette. In a Supreme Court brief, Newsweek said that "he repeatedly made himself unavailable for his work," and that "all editors who dealt with his work found inadequate."
The commission's findings of "racial discrimination" were "not supported by substantial evidence," the lower court said. "Consequently we must hold that the commission's ruling in this regard was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with the law."