Fox News off the hook in discrimination suit

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2011 11:36 AM
Fox News off the hook in discrimination suit

By Tim Kenneally

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Fox News scored a legal victory Monday, with U.S. District Court judge deciding in the network's favor in a suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Fox reporter Catherine Herridge.

Herridge, who was granted a trial run as an anchor from 2006 to 2007, was sent back to her Washington, D.C. bureau reporter beat following the trial period, and the anchor position was eventually given to a man.

During her trial run, Herridge lodged a series of complaints against Fox News, alleging discrimination.

In one complaint, for example, Herridge questioned why less desirable shifts were given to black and female correspondents. (Following a three-month investigation, Fox's senior VP of legal and business affairs, Dianne Brandy, said she found no basis for Herridge's allegations.)

Following her trial run as an anchor, Herridge alleged that she had been demoted because of her gender and age (she was 43 at the time), and because she had lodged discrimination complaints with the company.

When Herridge and Fox began to negotiate her new contract in 2008, Herridge claimed that a draft of the new contract contained "retaliatory language" -- and, without Fox's knowledge, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (This, despite the fact that her proposed new contract contained substantial pay raises for each year it covered.)

Declaring that "a reasonable jury couldn't infer retaliation from the record," U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted Fox's request for a summary judgment, noting, "the plaintiff's claims must be dismissed."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.