Fox News employees Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit Tuesday night in State Supreme Court in Bronx, N.Y.
Brown and Wright are suing Fox News; its parent company, 21st Century Fox; and Judith Slater, the former senior vice president of accounting and comptroller who worked at the company for 19 years.
The lawsuit claims that Slater, who is white, ridiculed and mocked the women based on their race. The women said they “and other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long relentless racial animus” working under Slater.
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.
A Fox News spokeswoman said Slater was fired last month in response to the complaints.
“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 spokeswoman said.
“There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News,” the spokeswoman added. “We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”
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.
In one incident, Slater “responded to a good-night message from two African American employees who stopped by her office by raising her hands in a ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture, a slogan associated with the Black Lives Matter movement,” according to The Wrap.
Brown and Wright said Slater also mocked the speech of African American employees, asking them to pronounce out loud words like “mother,” “father,” “month” and “ask.”
In regard to discrimination and language usage, a public forum, “Linguistic Prejudice, Linguistic Privilege,” took place Wednesday night at New York University (NYU) in New York City.
“Linguistic prejudice seems to remain socially acceptable today even when other types of overt discrimination are otherwise shunned,” according to the NYU’s linguistics department.
“African American English has the full capacity of language, and the people who speak it are brilliant and wonderful,” NYU linguist Rene Blake says in an upcoming documentary.
Brown is still employed by the network, and Wright was transferred to a different department this week but not demoted, according to the Fox News spokeswoman.
The women also accuse the network of unequal pay and opportunities for advancement because of their race, in violation of New York state law.
According to The New York Times, the lawsuit included the names of four other African American employees “who left or were forced out and cited similar accusations of discrimination.”
Roger Ailes resigned as head of Fox News in July following lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson and allegations by others.
This latest lawsuit comes six months after Fox News settled a sexual harassment suit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson for $20 million.
Carlson’s allegations led to the resignation of network chief Roger Ailes, who abruptly ended his 20-year rein over the profitable and powerful cable news channel.
In a move that legal experts said was unusual, 21st CenturyFoxoffered a public apology to Carlson, who said Ailes took her off a popular show and cut her pay because she refused to have a sexual relationship with him.
During that investigation, more than two dozen women described harassment byAiles, according to New York Magazine.
The Fox News host’s comment about Rep. Maxine Waters is “no laughing matter,” rather “a well-worn diversion and act of denigration,” a Rutgers women’s and gender studies professor told DiversityInc.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who hosts a weekly program on the cable network, this week made a racial comment on-air about the hairstyle of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
On Tuesday morning “Fox & Friends” aired a video clip of Waters’ speech on the House floor, where she spoke out against racist behavior exhibited by some of President Donald Trump’s supporters.
When O’Reilly was asked his opinion of the congresswoman’s comments, O’Reilly replied: “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”
The other hosts laughed at O’Reilly’s remark.
(Reuters reports contributed to this article)