Fox News Insider / Via insider.foxnews.com
Fox News anchor and reporter Kelly Wright has joined 12 other current and former employees in a lawsuit against the network, claiming they endured repeated racial discrimination and harassment.
The embattled network has been trying to repair its image after recently firing its top-rated host Bill O'Reilly and former chief Roger Ailes over sexual harassment claims, both of whom have vehemently denied the allegations.
Wright, who has worked at Fox since 2003, says he was sidelined and denied opportunities for advancement because he is black, and accused the network of “plantation-style management,” according to the suit.
The veteran anchor said O’Reilly repeatedly refused to allow him on his show to discuss race relations in America, and in one instance, shunned Wright’s series focusing on the racial divide in Ferguson, Missouri, because it painted “blacks in too positive a light.”
Wright also claims that Bill Shine, the network’s co-president, obsessively focused on his skin color, often asking him “how do you think white viewers look at you?” He said he repeatedly flagged the treatment to senior Fox News executives, who did nothing.
The network did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment.
In the suit filed Tuesday, the twelve other current and former Fox News employees detail instances where they were allegedly targeted because of the color of their skin. Musfiq Rahman, who previously worked in the payroll department, claims that he was banned from the second floor of the network's New York City headquarters after mistakenly walking into the office of former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
“The fallout for Mr. Rahman's 'mistake' was swift and severe,” the lawsuit alleges. “Ailes was furious and his paranoia about being attacked came to the forefront. That same day, Ailes ordered that a wall be constructed immediately in his personal office to act as a barrier to entry.”
The next day, Rahman, who is described as a “dark-skinned Bangladeshi,” and a number of Black employees in the Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable Departments, had their security passes to the second floor revoked, the suit claims.
Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, two former black employees, said they experienced “horrific discrimination at the hands” of Fox's former comptroller Judith Slater. The network vowed that it fired Slater on Feb. 28 after learning of the allegations.
The two women claim Slater would target them and other black employees with racist comments, like inquiring if all three of Wright's children were fathered by the same man, asking “Why are all black men women-beaters?,” and forcing black employees to practice saying certain words correctly in front of white employees, the complaint says.
“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” Douglas Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, who are representing the 13 plaintiffs, said in a statement Tuesday.
“If 21st Century Fox choses 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,” the attorneys said.