Eleven plaintiffs are now part of a racial discrimination lawsuit against Fox News, executive vice president of legal and business affairs Dianne Brandi and former controller and senior vice president of accounting Judith Slater.
On April 4, Monica Douglas, a credit and collections supervisor at Fox News, joined Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright in the lawsuit, which alleges they endured “years-long relentless racial animus at the hands of their white supervisor, Slater.”
New allegations, including mocking Douglas for being disfigured as the result of treatment for breast cancer, are included in the amended complaint.
“The allegations in the amended complaint make clear that Fox, at the highest levels, was on notice of Ms. Slater’s racist conduct for years and unfortunately did nothing about it,” said Jeanne Christensen, one of the lawyers representing the women.
On April 25, the number of plaintiffs grew to 11, including current Fox News on-air anchor Kelly Wright. The Fox News veteran, who has been at the network since 2003, claims that he “has been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’ — the racist caricature of a Black entertainer.”
Fox News has continued to deny these charges. “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,” a Fox News spokesperson said on April 25.
Slater, through her attorneys, also denied Wright’s claims, calling them “frivolous charges.”
“The incendiary language by [Wright’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor] raising the shameful period of Jim Crow and plantations is outrageous and draws a comparison that demeans the atrocities committed during those times. These frivolous charges are solely aimed at generating headlines, inflaming racial tensions and poisoning potential jury pools and judges,” Catherine M. Foti, attorney for Slater and a Principal of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello P.C., said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Fox Fired Slater in March After Allegations of Racial Misconduct Surfaced
The original complaint alleged that the women suffered numerous racial slurs while working for Slater.
The lawsuit alleges that the women, who are black, were mocked for their accents, appearance, and for other racial stereotypes.
Just before the lawsuit was filed, Fox News fired Slater.
“We take complaints of this nature very seriously and took prompt and effective remedial action in terminating Judy Slater before Ms. Brown, Ms. Wright and Ms. Douglas sued in court and even before Ms. Wright and Ms. Douglas complained through their lawyer,” a Fox News spokesperson told Heavy. “There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News.”
2. Slater Called Douglas “One-Boobed Girl” After Breast Cancer Treatment
According to the amended complaint, Slater subjected Douglas to “egregious discrimination” after she underwent treatment for breast cancer.
The suit says Slater did this by:
- Constantly mocking Douglas for the size of a breast that was removed as part of her cancer treatment;
- Saying to Douglas, “your boobs look like they are different sizes – oh, that’s right, you only have one boob;”
- Referring to Douglas as “boobs girl” or the “one-boobed girl;”
- Telling Douglas that her “boobs look crooked;”
- Referring to Douglas as “cancer girl,” among many other discriminatory statements; and
- Regularly saying aloud to Douglas and other employees that Douglas’s breast cancer treatment and chemotherapy was responsible for “increasing everyone’s” healthcare premiums.
3. Slater Had Been a Fox Executive for 18 Years
Slater joined Fox News in 1993 as director of accounting. Then, in 2006, she was promoted Slater to vice president and controller, in charge of the network’s finances.
Before she was fired in late March, Slater supervised all of the employees in the payroll, accounting and account receivables/payable departments.
Meanwhile, Brandi has served as in-house counsel for Fox for more than 20 years, overseeing multiple departments and executives.
The lawsuit alleges that the Fox News offices were run in a racially charged manner, with Slater at one point noting which managers were “down with the blacks,” or “not down” with them, referring to which executives had “issues” with black people.
In fact, Slater had allegedly told Brown that Brandi was “down with blacks” because she had previously lived in Barbados.
According to the complaint, Douglas complained a number of times to Brandi about Slater’s behavior.
The account alleges that one of the times Douglas complained, back in 2015, Brandi told her she didn’t think Slater was racist.
Brandi also allegedly told her, “Slater will not be fired because she knows too much,” referring to Slater’s knowledge regarding reported sexual harassment committed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and former Fox News CFO Mark Kranz.
4. The Suit Alleges ‘Appalling Discrimination’
Slater allegedly made fun of racial speech stereotypes, complaining that black employees mispronounced words “mother,” “father,” “month” and “ask,” by saying instead, “muva,” “fava,” “monf,” and “axe.” The suit claims she made black employees practice saying the words correctly in front of white employees.
She reportedly regularly talked about her fear of black people and said she would only travel to certain areas of the city if she had a black person with her, for personal safety. She also especially targeted black men, asking, “Why are all black men women-beaters?”
Among the allegations, every night employees were required to stop by Slater’s office to let her know they were leaving. When Brown would stop by, Slater reportedly used the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” gesture from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Because of the number of non-white employees in the payroll department, Slater regularly called it the “southern payroll department” and the “urban payroll department,” according to the complaint.
At one point, she allegedly asked Brown and Wright to teach her how to “beat box.” And she asked Wright, the mother of three, whether all of her children had the same father.
According to the amended complaint, she also said Douglas has “black eyes” as opposed to the “Aryan race,” who have blue eyes and blonde hair.
Twice, Slater reportedly kicked Douglas in the buttocks as she walked down the hall, and she would rub Douglas’s hair in order to feel its “texture.”
The names of several other Fox News employees are listed in the lawsuit, along with their allegations of racial discrimination.
Here is the latest version of the lawsuit, including the new plaintiffs:
5. Slater Isn’t Only Fox News Employee Facing Harassment Charges
Fox News has been in the news recently for a number of harassment-related claims.
Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned last July shortly after former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Meanwhile, current Fox News commentator Julie Roginsky has filed a sexual harassment suit against Fox News, Ailes and Fox News Co-President Bill Shine.
The O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly faced a number of sexual harassment and verbal abuse claims. The network has reportedly shelled out a total of $13 million to settle five of the claims.
Although O’Reilly has never admitted any wrongdoing, he was fired by Fox News on April 19.
In the amended version of the complaint with Wright’s claims, the anchor claims that O’Reilly didn’t want him on his show to talk about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri “because it showed Blacks in ‘too positive’ a light,” reports the NEw York Daily News. Wright also claimed that he picked a morning show about the African-American community to air before Fox & Friends, but the slot went to a White host instead.