Litigation against Fox News is moving forward following the death of the network’s former chairman and chief executive officer, Roger Ailes.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that three new lawsuits alleging a ‘hostile work environment’ were filed in the days after Ailes’ death.
Although the late corporate helmsman was a witness and defendant in some cases, his absence, according to the Post, isn’t likely to make much of a difference.
In a handful of lawsuits in which Ailes was singled out as a defendant, the lawyers driving the litigation have signaled they’ll move forward without him.
Former Fox employee Andrea Tantaros, who once hosted the “The Five,” says her position was cut and she was terminated from the television network after complaining that Ailes had sexually harassed her. In mid-May, Tantaros filed another lawsuit against Fox, accusing the company of monitoring her personal correspondence and using ‘sock puppet’ Twitter accounts to harass and humiliate her.
By the end of April, eleven individuals had banded together to file a class action in New York, saying Fox had a reputation for “abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination.”
The lawsuit expands on a complaint made by two black women, Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, who worked in Fox’s payroll department.
The New York Times records the complaint as accusing Judith Slater, “the company’s longtime comptroller,” of “engaging in racist behavior” and making derogatory remarks about minorities. Another former Fox employee, Monica Douglas, joined the lawsuit a month ago.
The plaintiffs said the network knew that Slater was fostering a hostile work environment but chose to ignore her actions.
Slater was fired in February, months after the Murdochs pushed Roger Ailes to quit.
In a damning statement, the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, said, “When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox.”
“We sincerely hope the filing of this race class action wakes 21st Century Fox from its slumbers and inspires the company to a conciliatory and appropriate approach to remedy is wrongs,” they said.
Wigdor is representing 23 former Fox employees, whose grievances against the company range from accusations of racial discrimination to sexual harassment.
The attorney said Roger Ailes wasn’t specifically named as a defendant in any of his clients’ cases.
The NYT notes many of the lawsuits which directly implicated Ailes were settled without much challenge, indicating Fox might not have had much faith in the ability of its former chairman and CEO to dispel claims of his wrongdoing.
“My guess is he wouldn’t have been a very good witness for Fox,” said Joana Grossman, a professor of discrimination and gender law at SMU Dedman School of Law.