Fox News has a lot of problems, and apparently racial discrimination is one. (Surprise?) Two black women filed a federal lawsuit in state Supreme Court in the Bronx, N.Y., Tuesday night, claiming that they were subjected to “top-down racial harassment” in the Fox News payroll department thanks to longtime comptroller Judith Slather.
According to the New York Times, Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager at the company, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator, both accused Slater of making several racially charged comments, including suggestions that black men were “women beaters” and that black people wanted to physically hurt white people.
Slather also allegedly made fun of black employees, saying that they mispronounced words such as “mother,” “father,” “month” and “ask,” and actually asked Brown to say those specific words out loud during a meeting.
Wright claimed that Slater once asked her if her three children were all “fathered by the same man.”
“We are confident that the good men and women of the Bronx will hold Fox accountable for what we believe to be its abhorrent racist conduct, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen of the Wigdor law firm, who are representing the two women, said in a statement.
The lawsuit named Slater, Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox as defendants. It also alleged that Slater’s superiors did little to address the alleged behavior, which created a hostile work environment with “severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.”
The women have also allegedly faced retaliation, with Wright, who had spoken out against Slater’s action, being transferred out of the payroll department on Monday. According to the Times, the lawsuit slammed the move as a demotion, while the company said it was a lateral move.
Brown, the lawsuit claims, was fired Monday; however, the company insisted on Tuesday night that she was still employed.
The lawsuit acknowledged that both women declined a settlement offer from Fox, and it named four other black employees who either left the company or were forced out, citing similar allegations.
For its part, Fox says that it took action immediately after learning about the allegations against Slater, which culminated in her being fired on Feb. 28.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News. We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”
Read more at the New York Times.