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Fox News Accused of Being Hostile Workplace for African-Americans
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Summary: Thirteen former and current Fox News employees are suing the network for racial discrimination. 

While Fox News is still trying to manage its reputation as an unsafe workspace for women, it is now being accused of being a hostile work environment for African-Americans. This week, the conservative news network was sued by 13 current and former black employees, who said that they were harassed and discriminated against for years.


One of the most high-profile accusers is Fox News anchor and reporter Kelly Wright, who said that the network systemically kept black employees from moving up the corporate ladder. He also described the management as “plantation-style.”

“I want to make it possible for whoever fills my shoes, the next generation, to never go through this,” Wright said at a press conference covered by Buzzfeed News. He added that media organizations needed to do better and embrace diversity.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, Douglas Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, said that the network operated as if it were in another era.

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“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a statement.

Wigdor said that once Wright joined the lawsuit his law firm received several phone calls from other Fox News employees seeking counsel. He said that he is still investigating the calls but that he believes that the lawsuit will expand.

Earlier this month, The New York Times broke the story that Fox News’s golden boy Bill O’Reilly had been accused of sexual harassment by at least 5 women, and that he and the network had paid them a total of $13 million to settle their claims. After the article went viral, stories of O’Reilly’s mistreatment of African-Americans also surfaced, and Wright seemed to second these claims.

Wright said that O’Reilly would not allow him on his show The O’Reilly Factor to talk about race relations, and Wright said O’Reilly refused to acknowledge Wright’s piece about the race problems in Ferguson, Missouri because the series portrayed blacks positively.

Wright said it wasn’t just O’Reilly who had a problem with black people. Wright said that the network’s copresident Bill Shine was also inappropriate. Wright said that Shine repeatedly asked him, “How do you think white viewers look at you?” and that when he reported these comments to Fox News executives, they did nothing.

The other plaintiffs said that they were repeatedly subjected to “intolerable” “unlawful” and “hostile” racial discrimination by top brass and that when their complaints were reported, nothing was done.

For instance, Monica Douglas said that now-fired executive Judith Slater used to mock her hair by asking to touch it. Slater also allegedly made fun of how some African-Americans pronounce words such “ask” and “mother,” and Slater also mocked the accent of Musfiq Rahman.

Rahman said that Slater teased him about his Bangladesh accent to the point where he cried, and he also said that he was banned from the second floor of Fox News’ headquarters because now ousted CEO Roger Ailes was scared of terrorists. After Rahman mistakenly went to that floor, Ailes demanded that a wall be constructed around his office as a barrier to entry.

According to the lawsuit, Rahman and other black employees were then forbidden to go to the second floor.

This lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in New York Supreme Court, is building upon a March complaint filed by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, who said Slater harassed them. For instance, Slater allegedly asked if Tabrese Wright’s children were all fathered by the same men.

“If 21st Century Fox chooses to defend the indefensible, systemic race discrimination, we will utilize our collective efforts and resources to hold those responsible for these egregious discriminatory acts before a Bronx jury,” the plaintiff’s legal team said.

Although O’Reilly, Ailes, and Slater no longer work at Fox News, the plaintiffs said that they were subjected to a hostile work environment despite frequent complaints. Attorney Wigdor said at a Wednesday press conference that he hoped that these lawsuits will force Fox News to “recognize what it has done” and that it will make an active effort to attract, promote, and retain black employees.

A spokesperson for Fox News said that they deny the claims and “will vigorously defend these cases.”

Source: Buzzfeed

Photo courtesy of Fox News

What do you think of this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.



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