Embattled Fox News was hit with lawsuits over alleged racial discrimination on Tuesday, including a class action suit in which former “Fox and Friends” co-host Kelly Wright was among the plaintiffs, according to documents obtained by TheWrap.
Wright was one of 11 former or current Fox News employees attached to a class action suit filed in Bronx Supreme Court accusing the leading cable news network of fostering an environment in which top-down racial harassment occurred, joining three other former Fox News staffers who filed a separate racial discrimination complaint.
“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox. We sincerely hope the filing of this race class action wakes 21st Century Fox from its slumbers and inspires the Company to take a conciliatory and appropriate approach to remedy its wrongs,” Wigdor LLP partners Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, who are representing Wright and her fellow plaintiffs, said in a statement. “If 21st Century Fox choses to defend the indefensible–systemic race discrimination–we will utilize our collective efforts and resources to hold those responsible for these egregious discriminatory acts before a Bronx jury.”
Also on Tuesday, former Fox News accounts payable employee Adasa Blanco filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York claiming that former Fox Senior Vice President of Accounting and Controller Judith Slater had been racially abusing African-American employees for years and the company knowingly tolerated it — only dismissing her earlier this month for public relations reasons. Blanco alleged that she had reported “the racially hostile work environment” to Fox News Executive Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs Dianne Brandi in September 2008 — more than eight years before Slater was terminated.
“Slater was not terminated because she engaged in discriminatory conduct — Fox was willing to let her get away with that for years,” the complaint alleged. “Rather, Slater was terminated because Fox knew this would become a public matter and wanted to salvage its reputation.”
A network spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement: “FOX News and Dianne Brandi vehemently deny the race discrimination claims in both lawsuits. They are copycat complaints of the original one filed last month. We will vigorously defend these cases.”
Pamela Chelin contributed reporting to this article.