Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fox News tech sues network, says he was fired for complaining of racist abuse from coworkers

BY Scott Shifrel

A black former Fox News technician is suing the network, saying he was fired when he complained that colleagues were pummeling him with racial abuse.

"This is what happens when you mess with white people's health care," he recalled one colleague said while watching footage of a Tea Party rally protesting national health care reforms.

Harmeen Jones insists he was subjected to a steady stream of "racist, sexist, and extremely offensive comments," against blacks, Muslims, Jews, women and Hispanics on a daily basis.

The atmosphere in the control room at Fox's Manhattan headquarters caused him "embarrassment, fear and humiliation and made him feel like he is somehow less than fully human."

The Manhattan federal court suit names Fox News Network and seven of Jones' colleagues and seeks $5 million in damages.

In a statement, the network responded: "Fox News has not received a complaint and therefore cannot comment."

Jones, 32, of Brooklyn began working for Fox in 2005 as a free-lance intake operator and was hired full-time in 2007 to work as an remote operator monitoring global news feeds, the suit says.

Besides the Tea Party-related exchange, he said that during the 2008 presidential campaign, two white colleagues told him they wouldn't feel comfortable with a black president.

When one of the men detected Jones was uneasy, he asked, "am I offending your blackness?"

At other times, Jones said his co-workers told him "you look like a gangster," and "like you're ready to shoot someone."

In 2009, Jones said he complained to the human resources department at News Corp. and his colleagues responded by calling him a "snitch," he said.

He said after his complaints got back to his colleagues and immediate managers, he was called in by his boss and told "We gave you a chance and you repay us by making complaints to HR? You are terminated."

Fox News was hit with a suit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this month claiming it improperly tried to fire reporter Catherine Herridge after she complained about sex and age discrimination.

Fox has denied the retaliated accusation.

The New York Post -- which is also owned by News Corp. and is located in the same building as Fox News -- was hit with a series of discrimination suits last year.

The Post has said the suits are without merit and they would fight them in court.

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