The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week filed suit against Fox News Channel parent Fox News Network in Washington alleging that it attempted to punish reporter Catherine Herridge over sex and age discrimination complaints.
According to the suit, Herridge complained to officials at Fox back in 2007 about what she thought were discriminatory employment practices. After an investigation, Fox told Herridge it had found no such conduct.
The suit hinged on language in Herridge's next contract that the EEOC says was intended to prevent her from making complaints in the future. Herridge refused sign the contract, Fox refused to negotiate, and became an "at-will" employee, according to EEOC, which caused her "considerable stress."
The EEOC is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction against Fox preventing it from further retaliation against employees.
"The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and other federal anti-discrimination laws are indispensable to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination," said EEOC attorney Lynette Barnes announcing the suit. Employers must take care that any action taken in response to a discrimination complaint is constructive and not retaliatory."
A Fox spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.