Three more employees filed federal discrimination suits Monday against Fox News, adding to the network’s legal difficulties as it attempts to move beyond the era of late CEO and chairman Roger Ailes.
The suits were filed by attorney Douglas Wigdor, who now represents 23 current and former Fox employees. Two of the new plaintiffs, Vidya Mann and Naima Farrow, allege that they were terminated after becoming pregnant. Both also allege they were subjected to racially discriminatory remarks from Judith Slater, the network’s former comptroller.
The third plaintiff, Kathleen Lee, is a shift editor at Fox News Radio. She alleges that a former radio anchor, Ron Flatter, regularly berated and intimidated her, made fun of her disability, and disparaged other female employees. According to the complaint, Flatter referred to her and other employees as “sluts” and “whores,” and would fly into uncontrolled rages. The complaint also describes a culture of widespread sexual harassment, and alleges that her complaints were ignored for months.
“Flatter believed that continued harassment was permissible because Fox failed to discipline him in any way, and other male employees, including those senior to Flatter, also engaged in misogynistic behavior,” the suit states.
In July 2015, more than a year after Lee complained repeatedly, Flatter left the network.
Mann, a former employee in accounts receivable, joined an earlier suit filed by Asada Blanco, who also contends that she was let go after becoming pregnant. In addition, Blanco has alleged that Slater made numerous racially disparaging comments. Slater was fired in March, amid accusations that she had demeaned African-Americans.
Wigdor also submitted a new letter to Ofcom, the British regulator that is reviewing whether 21st Century Fox should be allowed to acquire the Sky satellite broadcasting service. The letter notes that Fox has prevented Wigdor’s clients from testifying to Ofcom by refusing to waive their confidentiality agreements.
In a statement, a Fox spokeswoman said the company took prompt and effective action to address the complaints. “We believe these latest claims are without legal basis and look forward to proving that the Company at all times has acted appropriately, and lawfully, in connection with these matters,” the spokeswoman said.
Catherine Foti, an attorney for Slater, issued her own statement: “I have not yet had an opportunity to review the new complaints. But all claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false.”