Two women who formerly worked in Fox News' payroll department say they were subjected to racist abuse for years, according to a lawsuit filed against the cable channel in a New York court on Tuesday.
In their lawsuit, Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright allege that Judy Slater, the company's former senior vice president of accounting, engaged in numerous acts of racist conduct, including referring to all black men as "women beaters."
“We are confident that the good men and women of the Bronx will hold Fox accountable for what we believe to be its abhorrent racist conduct, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a statement.
Responding to the litigation, Fox News said in a release that it had fired Slater on Feb. 28 before the lawsuit was filed:
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. There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News. We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.
In the plaintiffs' court filing, Brown claims that she was fired from the company and Wright claims that she was demoted for bringing the lawsuit. In response, Fox News said that Brown was still employed and that Wright had been shifted to another department with "the same salary and same benefits."
The former payroll employees make numerous allegations of improper racial comments by Slater, including one incident where she is alleged to have said that she does not travel into the northern parts of Manhattan "because she is afraid she will be 'jumped' or 'beat up.' For safety reasons, Slater claims to travel there only when accompanied by a black person."
The plaintiffs also allege that Slater told them that Chinese men have "small penises" and called day laborers "cheap Mexicans."
The suit also claims that Slater made fun of Wright's hairstyle and her credit rating.
In their filing, Wright and Brown allege that “Slater’s superiors did little to address her behavior, which created a hostile work environment that resulted in ‘severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.’”
Fox News has been involved in several high-profile lawsuits of late. Most of them have involved allegations of sexual misconduct. The right-leaning news channel's founder and CEO Roger Ailes departed after numerous women accused him of harassing behavior and even blackmail.
Wright and Brown's lawsuit comes at a bad time for the network after its star host, Bill O'Reilly, was accused of racism after he made an on-air joke about Rep. Maxine Waters' hairstyle. He subsequently apologized on his program.