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Three More Join Discrimination Lawsuit Against Fox News

Three More Join Discrimination Lawsuit Against Fox News
Image: Empty window is seen after Bill O'Reilly poster is removed from Fox News Channel offices in Manhattan, New York
An empty window is seen where the poster of former cable news host Bill O'Reilly was removed from the Fox News Channel offices in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., April 20, 2017.RASHID UMAR ABBASI / Reuters

Three more people came forward Monday with new claims of discrimination against Fox News, including one woman who says she was sexually harassed and "physically threatened" by former radio news anchor Ron Flatter.

Fox News Radio shift editor Kathleen Lee charged in the lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court that Flatter also mockingly called her an "invalid" and "leaky" because she has "physical disabilities." She said that Flatter also found other ways to torment her.

"During a broadcast on 9/11, knowing that Ms. Lee lost two cousins in the World Trade Center collapse, Flatter repeatedly talked about death and dying and continuously looked over to Ms. Lee to make sure she heard," according to the court papers.

When Lee, who lives in New Jersey, complained to her bosses about Flatter’s alleged bad behavior, she was told to "deal with it," the suit states.

Lee said the company's human resources department also failed to intervene when she complained to them about Flatter, who is described in the court papers as a "belligerent, loud and egotistic individual."

It was only after Flatter "physically threatened Ms. Lee a second time" that Fox told Flatter "to cease working," the papers state.

"Shamelessly, Fox continued to pay Mr. Flatter the remainder of his contract," according to the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Lee was subjected to "unceasing retaliation that continues through the present."

This brings the number of former Fox News employees who have accused the right-wing cable network of "Plantantion-style management" to 23, said attorney Douglas Wigdor, who represents them all.

Fox News has also been dealing with a swirling sex harassment scandal that resulted in the departures of pundit Bill O’Reilly and Fox News founder Roger Ailes, who died suddenly last Thursday. In response to the latest filings, Fox released the following statement:

"We have consistently demonstrated that the Company is committed to a diverse workplace that is free from all forms of discrimination, takes any complaint of discrimination seriously, and in these particular matters took prompt, effective and, where necessary, strong remedial action. We believe these latest claims are without legal basis and look forward to proving that the Company at all times has acted appropriately, and lawfully, in connection with these matters.”

Flatter, who now works for the Las Vegas-based VSiN sports radio, could not be reached immediately for comment on Monday despite multiple calls and emails. His biography disappeared from the site shortly after an NBC News reporter emailed and called spokeswoman Michele Musberger requesting help in reaching Flatter.

But Lee is not the first female Fox worker to complain about misogyny in the work place. And Lee said she was not Flatter’s only female target.

According to the lawsuit, Flatter openly called female coworkers “sluts” and “whores,” disparaged Hillary Clinton with a rude nickname, and made raunchy comments about Andrea Tantaros, a former co-host of Fox News’ “The Five” who has accused Ailes of sexual harassment.

The two other former Fox workers filing suit are Naima Farrow and Vidya Mann.

Farrow, who worked for Fox News in accounts payable from January 2014 to November 2015, claims in court papers she was fired “72 hours after disclosing her pregnancy to her supervisor.”

Farrow, who is African-American, "was also subjected to a racially hostile work environment," her suit states.

Her boss was Judith Slater, Fox News' former comptroller who was ousted in March amid accusations of racial discrimination.

Mann, who is “brown-skinned and Guyanese,” according to the court papers, also worked for Slater. She claims in her lawsuit that Slater refused to make her a "permanent employee" with benefits, but hired white people to do the same job with benefits, and that Fox fired her after she "gave birth to her child."

Slater's lawyer Catherine Foti said she hasn't seen the new complaints but insisted "all claims of racial discrimination against Ms. Slater are completely false."

The latest lawsuits landed just three days after Fox News fired Bob Beckel,the lone Democrat on “The Five” show, for allegedly making a racist remark to an IT worker. Wigdor represents the IT worker as well.

Beckel and Slater have not spoken publicly since their firings.

CORRECTION (July 17, 10:10 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the first name of the lawyer representing the accusers. His name is Douglas Wigdor, not Donald.