Racism, sexism and intimidation are so engrained in the Fox News workplace culture that despite the increasing amount of lawsuits filed by employees against the news channel, Bob Beckel, co-host of “The Five,” still thought it was acceptable to berate a Black IT employee.
A Fox News network spokesperson said in a brief statement on Friday that Beckel was “terminated for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.”
The law firm currently representing more than a dozen current and former employees suing the network and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, for racial discrimination represents the African American IT employee.
According to attorney Douglas Wigdor, when the IT employee arrived to service Beckel’s computer, the TV co-host “stormed out of his office” and told “our client that he was leaving his office because he is Black,” Wigdor said in a statement.
Two Black women said they "and other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long relentless racial animus" at the company.
“To make matters worse, after our client lodged a complaint about Mr. Beckel’s racist behavior, Mr. Beckel, in front of Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Lord, attempted to intimidate our client and persuade him to withdraw his complaint.”
A Fox News spokesperson disputed Wigdor’s claim that Beckel tried to intimidate the employee and said that Fox News “facilitated an apology from Mr. Beckel to the employee minutes after he was terminated,” according to a statement sent to LawNewz.com on Friday:
“As Mr. Wigdor knows, Fox News made the decision to terminate Mr. Beckel after a prompt and thorough investigation. His client raised the complaint to Kevin Lord, EVP Human Resources, on Tuesday evening via email and within 7 minutes Mr. Lord responded and began the investigation.
“Today, Fox News delivered that message to Mr. Beckel and facilitated an apology from Mr. Beckel to the employee minutes after he was terminated. No one tried to persuade Mr. Wigdor’s client to withdraw his complaint.”
Wigdor confirmed to NBC News that Beckel apologized but stands by his client’s claim that Beckel tried to intimidate him into not filing a complaint.
“Sadly the head of human resources permitted Mr. Beckel to try and convince my client into withdrawing his complaint in an effort to sweep this entire matter under the rug,” he said. “In my years of practice I have never heard of a human resources executive permitting this to happen.”
In June 2015 Beckel was fired from Fox News after the network revealed he had been treated for addiction to prescription pain medications.
Fox stated they could no longer be held “hostage to one man’s personal issues.”
At the time Fox News Executive Vice President Bill Shine said, “[Beckel] took tremendous advantage of our generosity, empathy and goodwill and we simply came to the end of the road with him.”
The network rehired Beckel, who once served as the youngest Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Carter administration, in January.
“Bob was missed by many fans of ‘The Five’ and we’re happy to welcome him back to the show,” Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in January.
In March, Fox News employees filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the network in State Supreme Court in Bronx, N.Y. Reporter Kelly Wright, a former co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” who has been with the company since 2003, joined the lawsuit in April.
“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 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 last month 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.