The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a sex discrimination suit against the Fox News Network LLC, claiming that the network retaliated against D.C.-based homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge. The alleged retaliation came after Herridge raised several complaints concerning age, race, and sex discrimination with the network.
According to court documents, Herridge began filing discrimination complaints with Fox in 2006, alleging that "female and black correspondents were given less desirable shifts" in the network and that repeatedly, assignments—including an anchor job—were either denied or "taken away from her" due to her sex and age. Following an internal investigation, the suit claims, Fox notified Herridge in March of 2008 that "no discrimination had been found." Herridge disagreed with Fox's determination.
When Herridge's contract came up for renewal that year, the suit claims, Fox included language referencing Herridge's past discrimination complaints against the company, and specified that Herridge wouldn't be serving as anchor or co-anchor during the contract's term.
According to the EEOC suit, the contract constituted "retaliatory language" that was intended to "dissuade Herridge from making further complaints of employment discrimination" against Fox. The suit claims that Herridge refused to agree to the contract and was forced to work for the network "without the benefit of an employment contract" for the next nine months. Only after Herridge filed an EEOC complaint on the issue, the suit claims, Fox removed the language from the contract and Herridge re-signed with the network.
The contract's alleged retaliation—not Herridge's original complaints of discrimination—are the subject of the suit. The EEOC is seeking "monetary relief for Herridge, including compensatory and pubitive damages and an injunction enjoining Fox News from engaging in further retaliation against employees based on their opposition to employment practices which the employee reasonably believes to be unlawful."
"We're not going to respond to a suspiciously timed press release from the EEOC," a spokesperson for Fox news said, but wouldn't elaborate.
In 2005, the EEOC filed a sex discrimination suit against Fox News on behalf of former employee Kim Weiler, claiming that Fox retaliated against Weiler for filing sexual harassment complaints within the network.
The court documents, filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, are available here:Fox News Lawsuit