The attorney for a former Fox News employee who is suing the news channel claiming he was wrongly fired for complaining about racism and discrimination in the workplace says retaliation against his client is the most serious offense.
Mark Taylor, who is representing Harmeen Jones in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, told Media Matters that his client had taken his concerns about racist comments and harassment to Fox News human resources officials only to be fired for his efforts.
"One of the big issues here is retribution," Taylor said Thursday. "The fact that when someone who works for a company goes through the proper channels to address this and the response of the company is to fire the person who is complaining, that is something that the law takes very seriously."
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Jones, 32, worked at Fox News from 2005 to 2009, according to Taylor. The lawsuit cites numerous instances of racist comments allegedly made by co-workers in front of Jones, who is African-American. It also notes other claims of a hostile work environment and infliction of emotional distress.
"In my mind, retaliation is the part that jumps out the most," Taylor said. "What we can expect as a society is that a corporation will address these things."
Taylor cited a string of e-mails between Jones and Fox News human resources officials as clear evidence that they dismissed his complaints and fired him because of them.
"A lot has gone on with human resources, his communications with human resources including e-mails," he said. "It makes very clear that sequence of events and timing and the fact that the attitude of his co-workers made it hard for him to do his job and that the response was to terminate him."
Taylor also pointed out that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had reviewed Jones' claim, as required by law, prior to the lawsuit being filed. He also said Fox had not responded to the lawsuit.
Asked if any other employee claims of retaliation played into the decision to file the lawsuit, Taylor cited the recent case of Catherine Herridge, a Fox News Washington, D.C., staffer whose case was taken up by the EEOC itself.
On Sept. 30, the EEOC sued Fox News on behalf of Herridge, a move Taylor said indicates his client is not alone in finding a retaliatory workplace.
"The rarely do that," he said of the EEOC.
The EEOC alleged that Fox News retaliated against Herridge after she complained about discrimination by asking her to sign a contract which included an assurance that she would not allege discrimination in the future.