Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fox News sued for racial harassment: “This is what happens when you mess with white people’s health care”

An African-American former Fox News employee is suing the company for racial harassment and discrimination, according to court documents filed in New York on Monday. Harmeen Jones, 32, is suing three of his coworkers for making constant racist comments to and about him over the course of Jones' four years at Fox. Jones is also suing four of his supervisors for refusing to stop the conduct, and firing Jones when he complained about the harassment.

According to the lawsuit, Jones was hired in 2005 to monitor television feeds from all over the world, record relevant video and pass the clips on for broadcast. "The room was set up like a theatre, with a wall of screens in the front showing the feeds and several rows of control stations facing it," the lawsuit states.

Jones sat a few feet away from transmission operators Mike Greco, Sean McCool and Damien Rodriguez, and had no choice but to listen to the trio's conversations. "Greco, McCool and Rodriguez continually made racist, sexist and extremely offensive comments throughout the course of every working day," Jones says in the lawsuit. "These comments concerned African-Americans, Arabs, Muslims, Hispanics, women and Jews."

The lawsuit describes an incident during the health care debate in which the group was watching video from a tea party rally, and McCool turned to Jones and said, “this is what happens when you mess with white people’s health care.”

Jones described an earlier incident during the 2008 presidential election involving Greco and McCool discussing how they wouldn’t feel comfortable having a black president. "Greco then looked at Jones and ... saw that his comments had made him offended and uncomfortable," the lawsuit states. Rather than apologize or backpedal, Greco allegedly asked Jones, “am I offending your blackness?”

Jones says he was constantly treated in a hostile and threatening way because of his race "through a consistent and relentless barrage of racist verbal attacks and demeaning comments" from Greco, McCool and Rodriguez. The lawsuit mentions comments like “you look like a gangster” and “like you’re ready to shoot someone.”

"The racist comments Jones was constantly subjected to caused embarrassment, fear and humiliation and made him feel like he is somehow less than fully human because he is African-American," the suit describes.

Jones says the Fox News employee handbook contained no information on what to do or who to talk to about racial harassment or discrimination, and other African-American employees told Jones "to keep his head down and not say anything."

In 2009, after telling his story to the human resources department at Fox News' parent company, News Corp, Jones was fired. "We gave you a chance, and you repay us by making complaints to HR?" Jones' supervisor told him. "You’re terminated."

Just another day at Fox News, I guess.
Author's note: Quoted text has been taken directly from Jones' lawsuit, but has been edited for an extraordinary number of Oxford commas.

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