NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Still dealing with the fallout of sexual harassment claims, Fox News is facing an expanded racial discrimination lawsuit.
The suit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, adds eight former and current FOX employees to a case involving three former FOX workers. They have made accusations against a since-fired FOX financial executive. It also expands the case to include Dianne Brandi, FOX’s chief counsel.
FOX News said it vehemently denies the allegations, calling them quote: “copycat complaints.”
The original lawsuit was filed in late March by two black women who worked in the network’s payroll department, and a third colleague later joined it.
The expanded lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages and an elimination of what is termed unlawful employment practices at FOX.
According to the lawsuit, one plaintiff, on-air personality Kelly Wright, who’s black, said he’d been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a Jim Crow, an insulting slang term to refer to a black man. Wright said O’Reilly, who’s white, refused to show a piece Wright had prepared after racial protests in Ferguson, Missouri because they showed blacks in too positive a light.
“Mr. O’Reilly would not permit Mr. Wright to come on his show to discuss how America could focus on achieving racial reconciliation in the midst of growing racial hostility. Instead, Mr. O’Reilly told Wright that he should call up Roger Ailes and offer to sing the national anthem at the FOX News town hall. Rather than viewing Mr. Wright as the two-time Emmy award winning recipient that he is, Mr. O’Reilly saw Mr. Wright as a singing entertainer,” said attorney Douglas Wigdor.
Wright, who took heat for staying on at Fox, defended his position.
“I’ve heard all the arguments about why I should not work at FOX News but few understand why I do work at FOX News, and why I still have every right to be there to deliver news,” said Wright, “I have the right to right to work there or anywhere in this country. Not because of the color of my skin, but certainly because of the content of my character. I stand before you a human being, perfectly flawed, but perfectly loved.”
In another section of the lawsuit, the workers allege that their complaints about the actions of Judith Slater, the fired former comptroller, went unanswered for years. They say Brandi told them Slater would not be fired because she quote: “knew too much” about former FOX Chairman Roger Ailes and top-rated host Bill O’Reilly, who have been ousted over the past year because of sexual-harassment accusations.
Slater’s lawyer, Catherine Foti, said the actions against Slater are meritless and frivolous. She said, “all claims of racial discrimination against Slater are completely false.”