Jonathan Harris had typically loved his time working as a manufacturing assistant at One America News Network. Then he started working for Graham Ledger, the ultra-conservative host of the the cable information channel’s flagship present.

“It’s a nightmare he hasn’t woken up from,” Harris’ lawyer, Britany Engelman, advised a jury Thursday.

Harris, 34, is suing each Ledger and Robert Herring Sr., the CEO of One America’s father or mother firm, on claims that he was harassed based mostly on his African-American race after which retaliated in opposition to when he complained.

The case opened for trial this week in San Diego Superior Court docket, greater than two years after Harris was terminated from the San Diego-based information operation.

The authorized battle presents a window into the interior workings of the small, family-owned, right-leaning information channel, which has the ear of President Donald Trump and is competing for viewership with the a lot bigger Fox News Channel.

One America News Network itself just isn’t named as a defendant within the case, however its father or mother firm, Herring Networks Inc., is. Nonetheless, the channel, headquartered within the Morena district, gives the setting for the office dispute.

It’s a case that have to be selected racial questions — Harris should show that he was the goal of racial harassment and subsequent retaliation — however it could be difficult to untangle the sturdy overtones of liberal versus conservative politics operating by the trial.

In opening statements Thursday, attorneys for each side previewed their proof, offering dueling narratives of Harris’ employment historical past at One America News Network and the last word purpose for his termination in 2017.

Harris was fired after deleting paperwork from his private work laptop. In accordance to administration, he violated coverage. In accordance to Harris, it was an excuse to get rid of him.

Harris was employed in 2014 first as a manufacturing assistant for the information desk, then as a reserving producer for “The Each day Ledger,” a night opinion present hosted by its namesake, a longtime San Diego information anchor and tv character.

Half of Harris’ job included discussing potential subjects for future reveals, coordinating visitors and posting to the present’s social media accounts.

It was no secret that Harris held a politically liberal viewpoint, in contrast to Ledger, 58, who describes himself as a “conservative constitutionalist.”

The 2 clashed.

Harris claims that he — the one African-American current at the present’s planning conferences — was frequently berated, demeaned and verbally abused on account of his liberal views and his views as an African-American male, in accordance to his attorneys, Engelman and Rodney Diggs. They didn’t current particular examples at the trial’s opening, and Harris has but to testify.

A breaking level in Harris’ and Ledger’s skilled relationship got here throughout a debate about airing a phase on the elimination of sure Accomplice monuments. Afterward, Harris despatched an official racial discrimination criticism to Herring Sr.

Herring Sr. was additionally known as out within the criticism. In it, Harris famous that prior conversations he’d had with Herring Sr. about race left him involved that the criticism wouldn’t be taken severely, or that he’d be retaliated in opposition to.

Harris was interviewed concerning the allegations the subsequent day by administration, and it was agreed that he would depart Ledger’s employees and transfer into a special place. Harris moved his laptop to a cubicle on one other ground — subsequent to Herring Sr.’s workplace — however not earlier than deleting a number of paperwork from his desktop.

The paperwork have been for his private use to assist him with the present, similar to templates to enter biographical info for showing visitors, in addition to present notes from previous episodes, Engelman advised the jury. He didn’t suppose they have been wanted any extra in his new position, and any paperwork that might be of use to future reveals have been nonetheless in a shared drive accessible to the entire employees, she stated.

One other producer complained later that day that Harris had deleted essential paperwork wanted to run the present.

After an argument in Herring’s workplace, Harris was fired.

Herring Sr. testified about that closing confrontation.

He stated he was involved by the complaining producer’s accusations however didn’t independently examine which information have been truly deleted or decide their significance to the present.

The argument moved from Herring Sr.’s workplace to Harris’ new cubicle close by. He stated Harris appeared to be deleting extra objects on the pc.

Herring Sr. stated he tried to block Harris’ entry to the pc together with his elbow, and Harris bodily pushed again. The CEO then unplugged the machine.

That’s when he fired Harris, Herring Sr. stated.

“I’ve bought to preserve my firm operating,” the CEO testified.

Engelman advised the jury that the worker handbook doesn’t embody any coverage in opposition to deleting paperwork or retaining them for sure intervals of time.

Patrick Nellies — an lawyer representing Ledger, Herring Sr. and Herring Networks — disagreed. In his opening statements, he stated Harris’ termination had all the things to do with violating coverage pertaining to firm property and unique work product.

He additionally stated Harris’ accusation that Herring Sr. had admitted to being “racist” in a earlier dialog about broad racial points was taken out of context.

Nellies stated the feud between Harris and Ledger didn’t stem from race, however from Harris’ poor job efficiency.

Even when Harris began his job within the manufacturing sales space, he would argue his liberal politics to the purpose of being disruptive and distracting, Nellies advised the jury. Harris was given warnings, however the habits continued whereas on Ledger’s employees, the lawyer stated.

“He’d debate the deserves to be aired somewhat than concentrate on the duty of producing the phase itself,” Nellies stated.

At one level, Herring Sr. advised Harris he ought to begin in search of a job at a “liberal channel,” in accordance to Herring Sr.’s notes of the dialog.

Each side agreed that Ledger was not a straightforward particular person to work for — Herring Sr. even stated he’d been yelled at by Ledger at occasions — however Nellies stated nobody would have the ability to testify to listening to Ledger “utter a racially discriminatory phrase towards African-People in his life.”

Ledger is anticipated to testify when the trial continues subsequent week.

Harris, who was incomes $36,000 when he was fired, is asking the jury to award him misplaced earnings, the price of having to relocate to Washington, D.C., and damages to compensate for emotional misery and psychological struggling. He had no intention of leaving San Diego, the place he was born and raised, however was pressured to to discover employment in his area elsewhere, Engelman stated.

Harris has since grow to be an on-air political commentator who presents a liberal counterpoint to conservative views on information and speak reveals, showing on The Hill, Fox News and RT America.