The women reportedly claim that former Fox News comptroller Judith Slater harassed them during their employment in the payroll department

By Lindsay Kimble
March 29, 2017 05:44 PM
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Credit: Andy Kropa/Getty

Two black female employees in the Fox News payroll department allege that they were subjected to countless incidents of racial harassment and discrimination at the hands of the company’s former comptroller in a new lawsuit, according to court documents available online.

The suit – filed by Wigdor Law LLP in the State Supreme Court in the Bronx, New York, on Tuesday – alleges that Judith Slater repeatedly discriminated against them because of their race.

“Despite being well aware of Slater’s racist conduct, executives at Fox did nothing to put an end to it and intentionally turned a blind eye,” the suit against Slater, 21st Century Fox, Inc., and Fox News Network LLC alleges.

Tichaona Brown, a payroll manager for Fox News, and Tabrese Wright, a payroll coordinator, allege that Slater said that black staff members mispronounced certain words and suggested that black people wanted to bring physical harm to white people. Wright further claims that Slater once asked her if her children were all “fathered by the same man” and says that she referred to the predominately black staff of the payroll department as the “urban” or “southern payroll department.”

The suit also alleges that Slater –who was recently fired by the news outlet after nearly 20 years, according to Variety – mocked the Black Lives Matter movement as “racist,” and made derogatory remarks about Wright’s hair, saying it was “too much afro.”

Wright has worked for the company since 2014, and was transferred out of the payroll department this week in what she called a demotion, according to the suit. Brown – who started working at Fox News in 2008 – claims in the suit that she was let go this week, but the company told the New York Times she is still employed.

The suit claims that Brown and Wright turned down a settlement offer from Fox in response to their initial complaints. They are seeking unspecified damages.

“We are confident that the good men and women of the Bronx will hold Fox accountable for what we believe to be its abhorrent racist conduct reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” Wright and Brown’s lawyers, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, said in a statement to PEOPLE.

In response to the suit, Fox News told the Times in a statement: “We take complaints of this nature very seriously and took prompt and effective remedial action [against Slater] before Ms. Brown and Ms. Wright sued in court and even before Ms. Wright complained through her lawyer. There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News. We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed.”

Fox News did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The racial discrimination suit closely follows former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson‘s sexual harassment suit against former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Ailes stepped down after multiple other women came forward with similar claims of harassment.

Carlson and Ailes eventually reached a $20 million settlement last fall, PEOPLE confirmed at the time.