Fox News is facing another round of employee harassment suits as the number of Fox News employees that are suing the network for racial discrimination, now stands at 13.
The first filing was a month ago, involving two plaintiffs – Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright. That suit centers on a hostile work environment that resulted in “severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment”as described in the filing. Brown and Wright specifically cite instances in which former comptroller Judy Slater subjected them to racially targeted language in the workplace.
Brown and Wright worked in the payroll department and also named Fox’s accounting director, Tammy Efinger in the suit because their attorneys outline in the complaint that “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct.” The letter adds, instead, “Ms. Efinger chose to laugh or giggle following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.”
The suit also details in its causes of action that Slater insisted that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches” with white female employees in her office, nearby former boss Roger Ailes’s office on Fox headquarters 2nd floor.
“Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter reads, referring to the humiliating 19th century spectacle involving the hiring of black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals to entertain white audiences. The lawyers also contend that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.
The plantiffs have stated that they believe the reason their case didn’t come about sooner is because they were told “nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives,” including Roger E. Ailes, the company’s former chief executive; Mark Kranz, the chief financial officer; and Mr. (Bill) O’Reilly.
This was followed yesterday by another separate filing served on the network by the lawyers representing Adasa Blanco, a former senior disbursement coordinator in Fox News’ accounts payable department, who alleges that she did complain to human resources and Fox News executive counsel Dianne Brandi regarding her treatment on racial harassment that she experienced and that she is seeking damages based on mental anguish and emotional distress.
With regard to the suit filed by Ms. Blanco’s attorneys, a Fox News spokesperson said, “FOX News and Dianne Brandi vehemently deny the race discrimination claims in both lawsuits. They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases.”
But there was yet another case filed on Tuesday by attorneys for Musfiq Rahman, described in the court document as “a dark-skinned Bangladeshi” who previously worked in Fox’s payroll department. Rahman, the complaint alleges, “suffered unconscionable and unrelenting race discrimination,” including an awkward encounter in 2014 with former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
Beyond this, a class action suit is being filed by Douglas Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen representing a group of black employees also claiming racial behavior by Fox management. Christensen and Wigdor told reporters that 21st Century Fox “has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox.”
Among the clients of Wigdor and Christensen is Kelly Wright, who co-anchors the Fox show “America’s News Headquarters”, who says that while Bill O’Reilly declined to have him on a guest segment to discuss race relations, O’Reilly did invite him to sing at a Fox holiday party. “Rather than treat Mr. Wright as the two-time Emmy award winner that he is, Mr. O’Reilly viewed him as a singing entertainer,” Wright’s lawyer said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“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 attorneys said.