Black Women File Class Action Suit Against The New York Times

By Kenrya Rankin May 02, 2016

A class action lawsuit filed on Thursday (April 28) alleges that The New York Times’ CEO Mark Thompson introduced a culture of “deplorable discrimination” when he joined the newspaper in 2012.

According to The Guardian, two Black women who work at the institution charge that Thompson discriminates on the basis of race, gender and age. From the suit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York:

The New York Times, widely touted as the “paper of record,” has been engaging in deplorable discrimination that has remained largely off the record. Unbeknownst to the world at large, not only does the Times have an ideal customer (young, white, wealthy), but also an ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family) to draw that purported ideal customer. In furtherance of these discriminatory goals, the Times has created a workplace rife with disparities.

Attorneys for the two women who brought the suit—Ernestine Grant, 62, and Marjorie Walker, 61—said that at least 40 people who fall into the following group could join the class: “similarly situated older, Black and/or female current and former employees of the Times are victims of discriminatory barriers to equal opportunity advancement, which has included the unlawful denial of promotions, compensation commensurate with younger white employees, and equality with respect to the terms and conditions of their employment, including, in many cases, the termination of such employment.”

Grant and Walker work in the company’s advertising division, and both say they have been discriminated against and that when the complained about it, they were retaliated against.

This isn’t the first time Thompson has faced discrimination claims; he was accused of treating older women poorly during his tenure as the director-general of the BBC. Meredith Kopit Levien, whom Thompson brought on board as the company’s chief revenue officer, is also named in the suit:

Ms. Levien made it very clear that she was looking for a very particular workforce, one that was filled with “fresh faces,” i.e., younger employees without families, and who were white.  Ms. Levien’s speech to various Times personnel also was shockingly rife with racially charged innuendos, such as references to the need for employees to be “people who look like the people we are selling to” and even going so far as to say “this isn’t what our sales team should look like.” Ms. Levien’s remarks gave cover to and outright endorsed increasing disparate treatment against older, female and/or non-white employees in the Advertising division.  

The suit asks for monetary damages in an amount to be decided at trial, to include loss of past and future income, seniority and other benefits of employment, in addition to compensatory damages for mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering.