The New York Times newspaper has the second largest circulation of any print newspaper in the United States. However, as print subscriptions continue to decline, the newspaper industry, like many others, has responded by cutting jobs. Unfortunately for some employees, the cuts do not appear to be made fairly across the board. Now a federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the news giant alleging racial, age, and gender discrimination.
Two former Times employees, Ernestine Grant, 62, and Marjorie Walker, 61, have filed a lawsuit against the New York Times, CEO Mark Thompson, and executive vice president Meredith Levien alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act, Civil Rights Act, and state human rights laws. The lawsuit alleges that the company promoted younger employees, male employees, and white employees over older, black and female employees. Additionally, the older, black, and female employees were selected for buyouts at a statistically higher level than for other employees during recent layoffs.
Under state and federal laws, employees are protected from discrimination based on their protected status. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age. These protections are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), and other state and federal laws.
In place of the employees who were given a buyout, the lawsuit claims younger, white employees were hired to take their place. In addition to relying on statistics, the former employees claim that vice president Levien made comments that were, “shockingly rife with racially charged innuendos.” They also claim that they were denied promotions, and compensated at a lower rate than less qualified, younger, white employees.
In addition to discrimination surrounding the layoffs, the lawsuit also alleges discriminatory comments during networking events, some of which were never open to minority employees. According to the complaint, Levien gave younger, white employees premium tickets and gifts, and provided for summer time off, which was not offered to older and minority employees.
According to Grant and Walker, they did not wait until after they were let go to complain about the workplace disparity. They made multiple complaints while they were employees, which are covered under federal and state whistleblower laws. However, they claim that management ignored their complaints, and instead retaliated against Grant and Walker.
Others have taken notice of the possible problems in gender disparity at the New York Times. A survey by the Women's Media Center found that the Times had the lowest proportion of female bylines of the top ten national newspapers. A reported 75% of opinion pieces were written by men. Male writers also accounted for 69% of news stories.
For CEO Mark Thompson, this is not his first experience dealing with discrimination within the company. The former director of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) dealt with a number of scandals over the way older female broadcasters were treated. Now the reputation may have followed him to print media here in the U.S.
If you believe your supervisor or employer may have discriminated against you on the basis of your age, race, or gender, your employer may be violating federal and state human rights laws. Illinois employees who may be a victim of employment discrimination should speak with an experienced attorney who understands Illinois and federal employment discrimination law. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.