It’s no longer just a sexual harassment issue at Fox News. Things have compounded for the troubled network on Tuesday when a new allegation of racial discrimination was leveled at the company. This came less than a week after the network’s star, Bill O’Reilly, was fired under multiple sexual harassment charges.
A total of eleven current and former Fox News employees filed a class-action lawsuit in New York against the network accusing it of “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.” This lawsuit, filed in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx, actually expands a complaint originally filed at the end of March by Tichaono Brown and Tabrese Wright. They are both black women who worked in the Fox News payroll department.
The suit contends that Judith Slater, the longtime comptroller for Fox News, engaged in racist behavior and made derogatory remarks that were ignored by her senior executives. The network fired Ms. Slater in February. Lawyers for Fox News, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, said in a statement, “When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox. We sincerely hope the filing of this race class action wakes 21st Century Fox from its slumbers and inspires the company to take a conciliatory and appropriate approach to remedy its wrongs.”
The lawsuit also contends that the employees repeatedly complained about the racial discrimination to network executives, no action was taken and the bad behavior continued. The lawyer for Ms. Slater, Catherine M. Foti, called the lawsuits “meritless and frivolous.” She said, “All claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false.”
The eleven current and former employees who filed the Bronx lawsuit said that Ms. Brandi and Denise Collins, human resources executives at Fox News, were aware of complaints about Ms. Slater’s racist behavior but told the black employees that “nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives.” According to the lawsuit, Ms. Slater demanded that minority employees arm-wrestle their white female supervisors for her amusement and she also mocked how black employees pronounced words like “ask” and “mother.”
This is the most recent hit on the troubled network. Last summer, the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, was fired due to a sexual harassment scandal and this past month the New York Times revealed that five women had received a total of $13 million to settle complaints of sexual harassment against Bill O’Reilly. The network faced the exodus of over 50 advertisers as well as protests and denunciations by women’s rights groups.
Do you think that this latest racial discrimination scandal will impact the ratings at Fox News?
Credit: New York Times