Fox News hit with new race discrimination lawsuits, allegations of 'plantation-style management'

Fox News hit with new race discrimination lawsuits, allegations of 'plantation-style management'
Members of the National Organization for Women protest outside Fox headquarters in New York last week. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Fox News on Tuesday confronted additional allegations that minorities who worked in the network's payroll division were subjected to years of verbal abuse and "plantation-style management" by high-ranking white executives.

In the first of two race discrimination lawsuits filed in New York, 11 current and former Fox News employees alleged that senior management turned a blind eye to "appalling racial discrimination."


The class-action case amends a complaint filed in March by former Fox News employees Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright who alleged that former Fox News controller Judith Slater regularly made racist and inappropriate comments. Slater was fired Feb. 28.

The cases came less than a week after parent company 21st Century Fox fired its star conservative commentator, Bill O'Reilly, amid allegations that he sexually harassed women. O'Reilly has dismissed the allegations as "unfounded."

In the second lawsuit filed Tuesday, former Fox News employee Adasa Blanco also alleged race discrimination. Her complaint names Fox, Fox News, Fox News attorney Dianne Brandi and Slater.

Blanco said she left Fox News in 2013 after eight years because she could no longer tolerate the comments, including being ridiculed for her accent. Blanco, who is from Puerto Rico, alleged that Slater mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and referred to her commuter train as the "Bombay Express" because of the number of Indians aboard.

"When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox," Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Slater's attorney, Catherine M. Foti, said in a statement: "These are meritless and frivolous lawsuits and all claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false."

Blanco also alleged that, after Sept. 11, 2001, one of her colleagues, Musfiq Rahman, who was from Bangladesh, mistakenly walked into the office of former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who was pushed out in July in a separate sexual harassment scandal.

"Ailes was furious…. That same day, Ailes ordered that a wall be constructed immediately in his personal office to act as a barrier to entry," the lawsuit said. "This wall was an obvious attempt at preventing dark-skinned employees, especially males who could be mistaken for being of `Middle-Eastern descent,' from walking in unannounced and frightening Ailes."

Rahman is one of the plaintiffs in the class-action suit.

The suit took issue with recent Fox statements that the company was committed to fostering an environment of trust and respect.

"The only consistency at Fox is the abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination that was inflicted on minority employees that appears more akin to plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment," the lawsuit said.

The two suits say that Fox News employees had complained to the human resources department about the disparaging remarks, but their concerns were dismissed because the high-level executives, all white, were too powerful and "knew too much," according to the suit.

A Fox News spokesperson rejected the allegations, saying, "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."