A racial discrimination lawsuit filed by two Fox News employees is expected to gain more teeth following a report that up to seven additional colleagues will be joining the legal action.
The suit, filed by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright in March, is focused on discrimination of black employees by a longtime Fox News comptroller, Judith Slater. The list of complaints from Brown and Wright are varied; Ms. Slater is alleged to have suggested black men were "women beaters," referred to a majority-black department as the "urban" or "Southern" payroll, and mocked the physical appearance and speech of the plaintiffs.
Though Slater is the primary offending party in the suit, the legal action extends to other Fox News employees, including accounting director Tammy Efinger.
In a letter obtained by New York magazine, the colleagues joining Brown and Wright in the suit allege that Slater also demanded black employees hold arm-wrestling matches with white female employees in the Fox News office.
“Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying," said the lawyers representing the new plaintiffs. "This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals."
Both Brown and Wright reportedly turned down a settlement offer. In a statement provided on the matter, Fox News expressed regret that legal action was necessary. “There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News," they said. "We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”
The discrimination lawsuit comes during a chaotic time for Fox News. Mounting pressure from advertisers led to the recent ousting of network star Bill O'Reilly, nearly a year after former network head Roger Ailes resigned in the face of numerous sexual assault allegations. Like Ailes before him, O'Reilly is expected to command a significant amount of money as severance, with some reports speculating the figure will be up to $25 million.