Fox News Sued by Employee, This Time for Race Bias

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By Jon Steingart

The flurry of sex discrimination complaints by female employees against Fox News that began last summer took a new turn March 28 when two black payroll employees accused the company and a former vice president of race bias ( Brown v. Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. , N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 22446-2017, complaint filed 3/28/17 ).

“To date everything that’s been discussed has to do with gender discrimination,” Jeanne Christensen, an attorney with Wigdor LLP in New York City who represents the workers. Former host Gretchen Carlson in July accused then-CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, the first of several complaints.

Even though Ailes resigned after more women came forward, other executives at the company have also perpetrated and tolerated various forms of discrimination, Christensen told Bloomberg BNA March 29.

Former senior vice president and longtime accounting division controller Judy Slater was accused yesterday of making racially offensive comments. Former payroll manager Tichaona Brown and current payroll coordinator Tabrese Wright say in the complaint that Fox tolerated the behavior for years. The company fired Slater a few weeks earlier to head off a public relations fiasco, they charge.

Slater allegedly asked why all black men are “women-beaters” when a video made rounds in the press that showed a black National Football League player assaulting his wife. She allegedly referred to the train she took to work as the “Bombay Express” because of the large number of commuters of Indian heritage.

Retaliation for Speaking Up Alleged

Brown was fired and Wright was demoted after they spoke out, the lawsuit says. “There’s no greater form of retaliation against an employee who engages in protected speech than termination,” Christensen told Bloomberg BNA.

Fox News told Bloomberg BNA the company doesn’t take such accusations lightly. “We take complaints of this nature very seriously and took prompt and effective remedial action before Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright sued in court and even before Ms. Wright complained through her lawyer,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a March 29 email. “There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News. We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”

Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin with the firm also represent Brown and Wright.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Christopher Opfer at copfer@bna.com

For More Information

The complaint is available at http://src.bna.com/nsu.

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