If you thought that Fox News’ problems would dissipate with the firing this week of anchor Bill O’Reilly, think again. Seven more African American Fox News employees are expected to join a racial discrimination lawsuit against the network next week, alleging they have been subject to racial insults and humiliation for years.
Details of the allegations, reported Sunday by New York magazine, are horrifying, although given the vitriolic, racist, and sexist content often broadcast on Fox News, not entirely surprising. It was not clear from the report how many of the seven still work at Fox.
The new plaintiffs are expected to join a lawsuit filed last month at the State Supreme Court in the Bronx by two other women who worked in the payroll department and accused the company’s comptroller, Judith Slater, of “top-down racial harassment.” Slater was fired last February after working at the company for many years.
A letter obtained by New York magazine from attorneys representing the payroll employees and sent to the network accuses accounting director Tammy Efinger of encouraging Slater’s “vitriol.”
The letter also includes new allegations “reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” in which Slater allegedly forced black employees into arm wrestling matches with white female employees “just down the hall” from former CEO Roger Ailes’ office.
According to the magazine:
“Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.
An attorney for the employees said more complaints are coming in the next few days.
Fox News did not comment in New York magazine’s story.
In the original lawsuit filed last month against Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox, payroll manager Tichaona Brown and payroll coordinator Tabrese Wright accused Slater of “making numerous racially charged comments, including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to physically harm white people,” according to The New York Times.
Slater also allegedly asked Wright if her children were “fathered by the same man.”
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Wright was transferred out of the payroll department, the newspaper notes.