On Tuesday, Bill O’ Reilly issued an apology to Maxine Waters, the California congresswoman, after an avalanche of criticism about comments he had made that morning about her hair on “Fox and Friends.” The same day, two black women filed a discrimination lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, alleging that they were subject to “top-down racial harassment” while working in the Fox News payroll department.
The New York Times reports that Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator accused their manager, Judith Slater, of making racially charged remarks such as calling black men “women beaters” and implying that “black people wanted to physically harm white people.”
As Maxine Waters pointed out on Tuesday, Fox News is no stranger to employment discrimination claims:
Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes have no credibility,” said Waters. “They have been sued by women, they’ve had to pay millions of dollars … And so we know about that checkered past.
Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, was ousted last year after a string of sexual harassment claims. Now, Fox News is facing new allegations of employment discrimination.
They also said that Ms. Slater claimed that black employees mispronounced words, such as “mother,” “father,” “month” and “ask,” and that she urged Ms. Brown to say those words aloud in a meeting. Ms. Wright said Ms. Slater once asked if her three children were all “fathered by the same man.”
Declining a settlement offer, both women claim they were subject to “adverse employment actions.” Wright’s Complaint states that her transfer out of the payroll department was a demotion. Brown was fired on Monday.
The suit also includes allegations that Ms. Slater made disparaging comments about Ms. Wright’s hair and credit score. She and Ms. Brown said Ms. Slater had mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and referred to their majority-black department as the “urban” or “Southern” payroll department.
The lawsuit included the names of four other black employees who it said left or were forced out and cited similar accusations of discrimination.
The NYT reports that the company released a statement on the case:
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.
The company said that it took immediate action after learning about the allegations against Ms. Slater and fired her on Feb. 28.
In early April, Monica Douglas, Fox News’ manager for credit collections, became the third black woman employee to join the racial discrimination suit against Fox News. Douglas alleges in the lawsuit that comptroller Judith Slater spent years subjecting her to racist slurs.
New York Magazine Reports:
Among the allegations, Douglas asserts that Slater complained she had “black eyes” as opposed to the “Aryan race” who have blue eyes and blond hair; called her Brooklyn neighborhood “the murder capital of the world”; and expressed “an unwillingness to even be near black people.”