Fox News is not having a good year.
On top of two long-time employees stepping down after multiple sexual harassment accusations, there's now a class-action racial discrimination lawsuit against the network. A group of current and former Fox employees allege the company allowed discriminatory work conditions to go on for years.
The lawsuit began last month when two Black women who worked in the payroll department said they "suffered years-long racial animus " from Judith Slater, a former senior vice president and company controller who was fired in February, USA Today reports. Now, a dozen Black employees are accusing Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, of racial discrimination, and another has filed an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Kelly Wright, an anchor at Fox since 2003, joined the class-action suit, claiming he "has been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a 'Jim Crow' — the racist caricature of a Black entertainer," according to CNN. Wright also specifically called out the now-fired host Bill O'Reilly and current Fox co-president Bill Shine.
"When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox," the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, said in a statement to The New York Times. "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."
Fox and its lawyer, Dianne Brandi, deny all the claims. "FOX News and Dianne Brandi vehemently deny the race discrimination claims in both lawsuits," a spokesperson told CNN. "They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases."
Just last week, O'Reilly left the network after The New York Times reported that he and the company paid five women a total of $13 million for them to not sue or speak publicly about their allegations. Before that, former CEO Roger Ailes left after multiple women accused him of decades of sexual harassment. While the news of O'Reilly's alleged harassment was still fresh, Fox was sued by yet another woman accusing Ailes of misconduct.
Both men reportedly received payouts of more than $20 million.
As the accusations against Ailes and O'Reilly added up, Fox's work environment was painted as unfriendly and disrespectful to women, and the class-action lawsuit paints it as discriminatory against people of color, too.
Needless to say, Fox News has some major problems to deal with — and quickly.
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