Eleven current and former Fox News employees have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News. The class-action suit adds to the mounting troubles at the 21st Century Fox-owned cable news network.
The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, accuses Fox News of “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.” It expands on a complaint filed in March by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, two black women who previously worked in Fox News’ payroll department. The women claim that longtime company comptroller Judith Slater engaged in racist behavior that was routinely overlooked by Fox News executives.
Monica Douglas, a third Fox News employee, joined Brown and Wright’s lawsuit last month. She was fired by the cable channel in February.
Adasa Blanco, another Fox News employee, filed a separate lawsuit Tuesday against the network, Slater, and Fox News lawyer Dianne Brandi in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
The lawsuits come as Fox News faces increased scrutiny of its work environment after the network parted ways last week with its top talent, Bill O’Reilly, whom the network cut ties with in the face of multiple allegations that O’Reilly had sexually harassed women at the cable channel. Last year, longtime Fox News chief Roger Ailes was fired from the network over similar allegations of harassment.
The class-action suit accuses Fox News’ actions toward minority employees as being “more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.” It says that Brandi and other executives actively covered for racially discriminatory behavior by O’Reilly, Slater, Ailes, current Fox News co-president Bill Shine, and others.
Included in that behavior, the suit alleges that O’Reilly suggested that one plaintiff, anchor Kelly Wright, call up Ailes and Shine and “offer to sing the National Anthem at Fox News Town Halls” after Wright asked to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” to discuss racial strife in Ferguson, Mo. It also accuses Slater of mocking the accent of another plaintiff, Bangladeshi Musfiq Rahman, so severely that he was at one point reduced to tears.
Regarding Slater, the class-action suit claims that black employees who complained to human resources about her alleged behavior were told that “nothing could be done,” because Slater “knew too much” about top executives, including Ailes.
“These are meritless and frivolous lawsuits and all claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false. We have yet to see the alleged additions to the original lawsuit. Given how outrageous and offensive these suits are, it’s incomprehensible to imagine how anyone has joined or would join these legal actions,” said Catherine M. Foti, attorney for Judith Slater, via statement to Variety.
“Fox News and Dianne Brandi vehemently deny the race discrimination claims in both lawsuits,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement. “They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases.”
O’Reilly was dismissed from his post as host of “The O’Reilly Factor” last week as advertisers fled the show in boycott. His exit package from the network was worth a reported $25 million. Ailes received $40 million package to leave the company last July.