Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright filed a discrimination lawsuit at the State Supreme Court on Tuesday in which they allege they were subject to “top-down racial harassment” while working in the Fox News payroll department.
The New York Times reports that both women worked under Judith Slater— Brown as a payroll manager, Wright as a payroll coordinator. Their lawsuit accuses Slater of frequently making racist remarks, such as calling black men “women beaters” and implying that “black people wanted to physically harm white people.”
They also said that Ms. Slater claimed that black employees mispronounced words, such as “mother,” “father,” “month” and “ask,” and that she urged Ms. Brown to say those words aloud in a meeting. Ms. Wright said Ms. Slater once asked if her three children were all “fathered by the same man.”
Slater is said to have made “disparaging comments about Ms. Wright’s hair and credit score.” Wright and Brown also say she frequently mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and called their department, which was staffed mostly by black employees, the “urban” or “Southern” payroll department.
Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, are additionally named in the suit; the two women say when they complained about Slater, no action was taken. Wright claims that she was demoted on Monday, and Brown says she was fired that same day. The NYT reports that the company claimed on Tuesday evening that Brown remains with the company and Wright’s position change was a “lateral move” at Fox. They also released a statement on the case:
“We take complaints of this nature very seriously and took prompt and effective remedial action before Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright sued in court and even before Ms. Wright complained through her lawyer,” the company said in a statement. “There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News. We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”
The two women named several other black employees in the lawsuit who they believe were forced out due to discrimination under Slater’s management. The company says they fired Slater as soon as they heard about the allegation against her, in late February.