Thirteen current or former Fox News employees of color, including a current anchor, have joined two racial discrimination lawsuits against the network, CNN reported Wednesday. Those dozen-plus plaintiffs are just the beginning, their lawyer predicted.
“This lawsuit will continue to grow, I suspect,” attorney Douglas Wigdor said at a press conference, according to CNN, noting that he has received calls from additional on-air Fox employees since he filed an amended version of the complaint Tuesday.
In a statement, Wigdor accused the network of “systemic race discrimination” and expressed hope that the litigation would prompt the network to take swift action.
“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” the statement read.
Kelly Wright (pictured), a black reporter and anchor who has spent 14 years at the network, is now lead plaintiff on the class action suit, which was filed last month in state Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of two former payment department employees.
Wright alleged in the complaint that he was “effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’—the racist caricature of a Black entertainer,” according to CNN.
An award-winning journalist who serves as co-anchor of America’s News Headquarters, a Saturday program, Wright contended he’s been kept off of the network’s marquee programs, like “The O’Reilly Factor.”
He alleged his effort to do a series of stories about black communities in America was rejected by the show because “it showed Blacks in ‘too positive’ a light,” according to the complaint obtained by CNN.
Wright joins a complaint first brought by Tichoana Brown and Tabrese Wright, who alleged that Fox’s recently fired comptroller, Judith Slater subjected them to “top-down racial harassment.” This involved Slater demanding that black employees arm-wrestle white colleagues, mocking how black employees pronounced words like “ask” and “mother” and suggesting black men were “women beaters.” Fox News, its parent company, 21st Century Fox, Slater, and Fox’s general counsel Dianne Brandi are named as defendants, according to the New York Times.
Another former employee, Adasa Blanco, filed a related, separate complaint on Tuesday against Fox News, Slater and Brandi, alleging that top executives at the network ignored employees’ repeated complaints about racial discrimination, CNN reported.
Through a spokesperson, Fox News strenuously denied all of the allegations against the network and Brandi, calling them “copycat complaints” and vowing to “vigorously defend these cases.”
Slater was fired in February after the network learned about the allegations. Her attorney Catherine Foti told CNN in a statement that the racial discrimination complaints “are completely false.”
The beleaguered conservative news network currently faces two additional lawsuits from former on-camera employees accusing the network and its senior executives of sexual harassment and illegal surveillance, respectively.