Fox News staffers score $10M payday over 16 discrimination suits

  • Eighteen lawsuits filed against 21st Century Fox companies which alleged racial and gender discrimination in the workplace have been settled
  • In total, $10 million was paid to settle 16 suits against Fox News, one involving Fox News Radio and another filed by a reporter from Fox's New York affiliate
  • 'The parties have reached mutual agreements that resolve various cases involving former Fox News employees,' both sides said in a joint statement 
  • On-air personality Kelly Wright, who is a black man, said he had been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a Jim Crow
  • Musfiq Rahman, a dark-skinned Bangladeshi, said he was punished after walking into Roger Ailes' office by no longer being allowed on the floor without an escort
  • Workers also mad allegations of 'racial discrimination that appears more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment'

By Chris Spargo For Dailymail.com

Published: 09:56 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 10:31 EDT, 16 May 2018

Fox settled 18 lawsuits accusing the company of racial and gender discrimination just days before they were set to head to trial in New York Supreme Court.

The New York Times reports that the class action suits involving 16 Fox News employees as well as a Fox News Radio staffer and a former reporter for Fox 5, the network's New York City affiliate.

Details of the settlement were not revealed, but 21st Century Fix is reportedly paying a total of $10 million to settle all the claims one year after the plaintiffs accused Fox News of racial discrimination 'that appears more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment.'

The original lawsuit was filed in late March of last year by two women who worked in the network's payroll department, and in the weeks after more people began to join the suit. 

In a joint statement, the plaintiffs' attorney Douglas Wigdor and Fox News said: 'The parties have reached mutual agreements that resolve various cases involving former Fox News employees.'

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Legal troubles: Eighteen lawsuits filed against 21st Century Fox companies which alleged racial and gender discrimination in the workplace have been settled (Bill O'Reilly and \Roger Ailes, who were both accused of making racial remarks by plaintiffs) 

Moving on: In total, $10 million was paid to settle 16 suits against Fox News, one involving Fox News Radio and another filed by a reporter from Fox's New York affiliate  (Kelly Wright addressing the media in 2017)
Moving on: In total, $10 million was paid to settle 16 suits against Fox News, one involving Fox News Radio and another filed by a reporter from Fox's New York affiliate  (Kelly Wright addressing the media in 2017)

Moving on: In total, $10 million was paid to settle 16 suits against Fox News, one involving Fox News Radio and another filed by a reporter from Fox's New York affiliate  (Kelly Wright addressing the media in 2017)

Starting out: Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright (women above) were the first to file, accusing white female supervisor Judith Slater at Fox News of making racist and stereotypical remarks for year

Breast-cancer survivor Monica Douglas, a black woman, claimed in her filing that a superior twice kicked her in the butt and would make jokes about the fact that one of her breasts was removed while she was battling cancer, saying they were now 'crooked' and 'different sizes.' 

One plaintiff, on-air personality Kelly Wright, who is a black man, said he had been effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a Jim Crow, an insulting slang term to refer to a black man, according to the lawsuit. 

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.

It was revealed that Wright had left the network on Tuesday as well to purse new opportunities.  

Another former employee, Musfiq Rahman, a dark-skinned Bangladeshi, said he was punished after mistakenly walking into Ailes' office by no longer being allowed on Ailes' floor without an escort. 

In April 2017, eleven Fox News employees, filed an updated class action suit alleging that they have faced 'hostile racial discrimination' from Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes and other top executives for years.

The employees also claimed the news outlet was 'more akin to Plantation-style management than a modern-day work environment,' where minority workers were taunted with racial stereotypes, demeaned by management, and forced to take chaperones when visiting the executive floor.

The joint action lawsuit was first filed in March, but Tuesday's complaint includes new allegations against O'Reilly and Ailes, who were both recently dropped by the network amid sexual harassment accusations. It also includes previous allegations against former vice president Judith Slater, who was fired in March. 

Former Fox and Friends co-host Kelly Wright, a veteran reporter at the network was one of the employees to join the class action discrimination lawsuit. 

Just a few weeks prior, Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright had detailed the alleged discrimination they faced in a separate lawsuit.

The women stated in court papers that they were seeking 'redress for the appalling racial discrimination which they suffered while employed by Fox News' at the hands of their white supervisor Judy Slater, the former Senior Vice President of Accounting and Controller at Fox News, according to their complaint.

The two women also accused Fox News of 'top-down racial harassment' in their complaint, claiming that executives including former CEO Roger Ailes and current co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Anernathy 'allowed this repugnant racial discrimination to go unchecked.' 

Shock: Musfiq Rahman (above), a dark-skinned Bangladeshi, said he was punished after mistakenly walking into Ailes' office by no longer being allowed on Ailes' floor without an escort.
Shock: Musfiq Rahman (above), a dark-skinned Bangladeshi, said he was punished after mistakenly walking into Ailes' office by no longer being allowed on Ailes' floor without an escort.

Shock: Musfiq Rahman (above), a dark-skinned Bangladeshi, said he was punished after mistakenly walking into Ailes' office by no longer being allowed on Ailes' floor without an escort.

Douglas  later joined the women in the lawsuit, and  claimed that Slater complained about New York by saying there are 'so many more black people now than when I was a kid,' referred to black people as 'your people' when speaking to Brown, and mockingly rubbed her hair to feel the 'texture.'

Among the 'unlawful discriminatory statements and conduct engaged in by Slater' that is alleged in the complaint are claims that she 'ridiculed black employees by mocking stereotyped speech,' once asked 'Why are all black men women-beaters?' and 'regularly talked about her fear that black people want to physically harm white people.'

A Fox News spokesperson told DailyMail.com last April: '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.'

Slater was fired from the company in 2017 after 18 years working for 21st Century Fox.

Lawyers for Brown claimed in the complaint that she too was fired as a result of bringing forth this lawsuit, and Wright was demoted as a result.

A Fox News spokesperson said that this was not the case however, and that Brown is still employed while Wright made a 'lateral move' in the company with 'the same title (coordinator), same salary and same benefits.' 

In citing specific examples of racial discrimination in their lawsuit, the two women allege: 'Slater told employees that she does not travel north of 90th Street in 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 comments were not just about black individuals either according to the lawsuit.

'Slater regularly called her commuter train to New Jersey the 'Bombay Express,' due to the number of people of Indian descent who live in New Jersey,' stated the complaint.

Slater also allegedly said that Chinese men have 'small penises' and called day laborers 'cheap Mexicans.'

Both Brown and Wright claim in the complaint that they did not speak out at the time over fears they might lose their job at the company.

'Over time, Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright watched other black employees who worked under Slater's supervision simply leave Fox rather than endure Slater's torment another day,' reads the complaint.

'No longer willing to remain silent while Fox treated employees of color as second-class citizens, Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright dared to speak out about the intolerable work environment, including their unequal pay and opportunities for advancement and development as compared to similarly-situated white employees.'

The two women claim that after they did complain Brown was fired and the company demoted White.

'At all times, Defendants' conduct was knowing, malicious, willful and wanton and/or showed a reckless disregard for Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright's rights, warranting an award of punitive damages,' said the complaint.

'Such conduct has caused, and continues to cause, Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright to suffer substantial monetary damages and severe mental anguish and emotional distress.' 

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