In Late April, 11 Fox News employees filed a class action suit against the media giant, alleging that they experienced “intolerable” racial discrimination for years. The suit was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx. It wasn’t the first complaint either. In March, two women came forward, claiming that they experienced “top-down racial harassment” at the network. The complaints have been combined into one class-action suit. Additionally, the anchor of “America’s News Headquarters,” Kelly Wright, has joined the employees in their attempt to call out the “culture of severe racial harassment.” All of this follows on the heels of Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment scandal and his subsequent death.
According to the suit, “The only consistency at Fox is the abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination … more akin to plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.”
The suit continues: “Mr. Wright has been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’ ― the racist caricature of a black entertainer.” Ultimately, the complaint sets its sights on a Fox News lawyer, Dianne Brandi, and former comptroller, Judith Slater.
As stated in the suit, Slater made fun of the way the employees said certain words, disparaging and berating a certain employee during group meetings. On several occasions, Slater even made an employee cry.
On other occasions, Slater “[allegedly] demanded that minority employees engage in arm wrestling contests, including against some of their white female supervisors.” The suit likens this to the way slave masters made black slaves fight for entertainment.
The end goal of the complaint is “to expose Fox for this cover-up, create institutional change at Fox once and for all, and compensate the victims of race discrimination for the harm they were forced to endure and continue to endure.”
Fox News has denied the claims, and according to a spokesperson for the company, they will “vigorously defend these cases.” The spokesperson continued, “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.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent history that Fox News has entered the spotlight for unsavory reasons. Last year, Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes ultimately leading to his resignation. And in early April another lawsuit was filed against the company for yet another sexual harassment suit. Additionally, Bill O’Reilly left Fox News recently because of sexual harassment allegations.
Wall of Silence
With no other recourse, these eleven employees have taken it upon themselves to seek justice. Explaining why he decided to step forward, Wright had this to say: “I thought about collectively how behind the scenes many of us have gone to the water cooler, around our computers, and we’ve talked about not just their plight, but the plight of other people of color at the company.” According to Wright, he tried to bring these issues to the higher ups at Fox News, but to no avail.
In their complaint, the employees claim that when they attempted to address the problem within the company they were told by Brandi and others “that nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives, including former Chief Executive Officer Roger Ailes (“Ailes”), former Chief Financial Officer Mark Kranz (“Kranz”) and O’Reilly.” Lawsuits like this might help break down the wall of silence that has been building up around Fox News for some time now.