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With O'Reilly Scandal Over, Fox News Hit with Racial Discrimination Lawsuits
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26 Apr 2017 04:44 PM EST

-by Laura Tucker, Staff Writer; Image: Fox News Logo (Image Source: Public Domain)

Fox News Channel just can't seem to dig itself out of legal trouble.

For the past few weeks, Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment suits have dominated the news, and now that they have canned him, the conservative news network is getting hit with racial discrimination lawsuits.

Rupert Murdoch and his sons, the heads of parent company 21st Century Fox, are dealing with even more drama. After the news hit that they and O'Reilly had settled at least five sexual harassment lawsuits over the years to the tune of at least $13 million, advertisers pulled out of The O'Reilly Factor, and Fox had no choice but to kick him to the curb. They must have thought their troubles would be over with that move.

And actually, this one could be even messier than the sexual harassment lawsuits. The company and three women together are looking at a discrimination and retaliation suit that was filed in March in New York federal court in a joint effort by Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright. Longtime controller Judith Slater, Executive VP Legal and Business Affairs Dianne Brandi, and employee Susan Lovallo were all fired as a result.

And now Adasa Blanco is suing the same three women as well as Fox News Channel and its parent company with claims that she and "other dark-skinned employees suffered years-long relentless racial animus at the hands of their White supervisor."

Douglas Wigdor, an attorney, is claiming Fox is more worried about their reputation.

"Fox's public relations machine went into full gear," he wrote. "In an effort to get out ahead of this lawsuit and pretend to care about the discriminatory conduct committed against Ms. Brown, Ms. Wright and other Black employees, upon information and belief, Fox leaked some of the allegations contained herein to the press."

His firm is now representing 13 current and former Fox employees, one of them being Kelly Wright, former co-host of Fox and Friends. He has announced that along with the federal action, he's also filing a state class action claim.

"When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox," Wigdor said in the statement. "We sincerely hope the filing of this race class action wakes 21st Century Fox from its slumbers and inspires the Company to take a conciliatory and appropriate approach to remedy its wrongs. If 21st Century Fox chooses to defend the indefensible – systemic race discrimination – we will utilize our collective efforts and resources to hold those responsible for these egregious discriminatory acts before a Bronx jury."

Ex-CEO Roger Ailes is being called out in the federal suit for keeping darker-skinned employees out of his office after 9/11. This is because a Bangladesh employee accidentally walked in one day, and Slater responded by mocking him for his accent.

Blanco, a Puerto Rican who had a tenure at Fox of nearly a decade, worked in the accounts payable department. She claims she was also mocked for her accent. She reported Slater's behavior in 2008, and both Slater and Lovallo four years later.

"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," wrote Wigdor. "Slater openly talked about her belief that all Chinese men have 'small penises.' Slater called day laborers 'cheap Mexicans.'"

"These are meritless and frivolous lawsuits, and all claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false," said Slater's attorney Catherine Foti, fighting back. "We have yet to see the alleged additions to the original lawsuit. Given how outrageous and offensive these suits are, it's incomprehensible to imagine how anyone has joined or would join these legal actions."

Wigdor also filed a second amended class action complaint on Tuesday in Bronx Supreme Court. It claims black employees were told "nothing could be done because Slater knew too much about senior executives" when they complained. Those executives included both Ailes and O'Reilly.

"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," added Wigdor.

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