EEOC Sues Fox News for Retaliation on Behalf of Female Reporter

Two weeks ago, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a retaliation lawsuit against New York based Fox News Network LLC, the company that owns and operates the Fox News Channel. According to the EEOC’s September 30, 2010 press release, the lawsuit alleges that Fox News retaliated against Catherine Herridge, one of its female news correspondents, after she complained about gender and age discrimination. The EEOC is a federal agency that helps employees enforce their rights under three anti-discrimination laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

In 2007, Ms. Herridge made several internal complaints that she was experiencing disparate pay and unequal employment opportunities because of her gender and age, the EEOC announced. Fox News conducted an investigation, but found no evidence of age or gender discrimination. In the fall or summer of 2008, several months after Fox News completed its internal investigation, Ms. Herridge refused to sign a new employment agreement with Fox News because it referred to her discrimination complaints. Fox News ignored Ms. Herridge’s requests to remove that language from her contract, and ignored her other attempts to negotiate her employment agreement. As a result, instead of entering into a new guaranteed employment contract, Ms. Herridge became an employee at-will. It was not until June 2009, after Ms. Herridge filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the EEOC investigated that Fox News finally removed the language about Ms. Herridge’s discrimination complaints from her employment contract.

According to the EEOC’s press release, the lawsuit is seeking money damages to compensate Ms. Herridge for Fox New’s retaliation, as well as punitive damages and an injunction to prevent Fox News from engaging in further retaliation against employees who oppose discrimination. Discussing the lawsuit, EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes stated that “[t]he anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and other federal anti-discrimination laws are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination.” Ms. Barnes further indicated that “[e]mployers must take care that any action taken in response to a discrimination complaint is constructive and not retaliatory.”

If you work in New York and New Jersey, and you believe your employer has discriminated or retaliated against you, then you can learn more about your legal rights by contacting an experienced employment lawyer.

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