UPDATE: April 26, 2017, 7:30 a.m. EST
Fox News Channel reporter Kelly Wright is one of the 11 plaintiffs, all people of color who are either current or former Fox News employees, suing the company for racial discrimination.
Wright, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend,” has been with the company since 2003.
“Despite his outstanding performance, and because he is Black, Mr. Wright has been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’ — the racist caricature of a Black entertainer,” according to the lawsuit.
Wright’s allegations involve recently dismissed Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and current network co-president Bill Shine, among others. He said O’Reilly refused to show a piece he had prepared after the protests in Ferguson, Mo., as it showed Blacks in a manner that was too positive.
Former Fox employee Adasa Blanco filed a separate racial discrimination lawsuit on Tuesday against Fox News, Judith Slater and Dianne Brandi, the top lawyer at the network. Blanco, who is from Puerto Rico, said she left her position in 2013 after eight years of being ridiculed for her accent.
“Fox News and Dianne Brandi vehemently deny the race discrimination claims in both lawsuits,” the company said in a statement. “They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases.”
Original story published April 24, 2016
As Fox News deals with the aftermath of breaking ties with Bill O’Reilly last week, nine Black employees in the accounting department claim the company must also take accountability for the racist behavior of its supervisors. And more women are also coming forward to share new alleged experiences of sexual harassment.
Seven more employees have joined a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator. Last month, Brown and Wright sued Fox News; its parent company, 21st Century Fox; and Judith Slater, the former senior vice president of accounting and comptroller. Slater, who was fired in February, worked at the company for 19 years.
The payroll employees suing Fox News demand that the accounting director, Tammy Efinger, also be removed from a supervisory role because she allegedly participated in Slater’s racist behavior.
“In a letter to the network’s lawyers obtained by New York, the attorneys state: ‘Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct.’ The letter adds, instead, ‘Ms. Efinger chose to laugh or giggle following Ms. Slater’s vitriol,’” according to New York Magazine.
Some of the outrageous conduct allegedly took place in Slater’s office. Attorneys for the plaintiff said the former comptroller demanded that Black female employees hold “arm wrestling matches” with white female employees in her office. Meanwhile, former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes’ office was just down the hall on the second floor of Fox headquarters.
The lawyers said in a letter, “Efinger bragged about wanting to ‘fight’ a Black employee.”
“Forcing a Black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying,” the letter states. “This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals.”
This alleged behavior by supervisors is in addition to claims against Slater revealed last month, such as Brown and Wright stating they “and other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long relentless racial animus” working under Slater.
Two Black women said they "and other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long relentless racial animus" at the company.
The lawsuit states that Slater claimed Black men are “women beaters” and that she regularly expressed her fear of Black people.
On one occasion, Slater asked Wright, a mother of three, if her children “were fathered by the same man,” according to the lawsuit.
Brown, who joined the company in 2008, and Wright, who joined in 2014, said executives at Fox News and 21st Century Fox ignored repeated complaints against Slater’s series of racial harassment.
Ailes, O’Reilly and Hannity: Sexual Harassment Allegations Continue
The recent racial harassment claims and uncovered sexual harassment lawsuit payoffs in support of both O’Reilly and Ailes highlight a profound culture of discrimination that existed with Ailes at the helm.
Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox News anchor now at CNN, has accused Ailes of saying “grossly inappropriate” things to her.
“It feels as though, if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like,” Camerota said Sunday in an interview with CNN.
Television journalist Alisyn Camerota alleged that Ailes frequently directed inappropriate comments to female employees about body parts.
“Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” she said.
Earlier this month Julie Roginsky, a Democratic political consultant and Fox News contributor, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. There are at least two separate lawsuits, against Fox News and Ailes, by women claiming they were sexually harassed.
Last year, on behalf of Ailes, Fox News agreed to pay $20 million to settle a harassment suit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. He denied any wrongdoing but resigned in July.
Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, said Sunday that Camerota’s claims are false.
“These are unsubstantiated and false allegations,” Estrich said. “Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred, and he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News’ editorial policy.”
Debbie Schlussel, a former FoxNews.com columnist, attorney and former frequent Fox News Channel, accused Fox News Prime Time Host Sean Hannity of sexual harassment.
Schlussel said in an interview with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based radio host Pat Campbell that while at an appearance in Detroit, which they both attended, Hannity invited her back to his hotel.
She said she was not invited back on his program after she turned down his advances.
“This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity,” Schlussel said.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Hannity denied Schlussel’s allegations. He said, in part:
“Let me be clear the comments about me on a radio show this week by this individual are 100 percent false and a complete fabrication. This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.”
The radio show host, Fox News pundit and Trump advisor said he’ll buy Obama’s airline ticket, but he “can’t come back.”
Perquita Burgess, a Black clerical worker, filed sexual harassment charges last week against O’Reilly, who allegedly referred to her as “hot chocolate.” On Wednesday, 21st Century Fox announced the star of “The O’Reilly Factor,” who was on vacation at the time, would not be returning to Fox News.
A memo Rupert Murdoch sent to staff on Wednesday stated, in part:
“Most importantly, we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”
O’Reilly’s replacement is Tucker Carlson, who is known for making sexist and racist comments on and off the air.