Two women who work in the advertising department at The New York Times have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the paper alleging that age, gender and race discrimination is endemic there.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two black female employees in their 60s in New York on Thursday, argues that under CEO Mark Thompson's leadership, the paper has become an environment "rife with discrimination."
"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," the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs, Ernestine Grant and Marjorie Walker, who have been with the paper for 16 and eight years, respectively, argue that diversity has been subverted at every turn throughout the organization and in one example say that the workplace has become a place where "strong older female voices are considered 'pushy' and 'difficult' rather than 'assertive' and 'aggressive.'"
For example, the company's advertising directors, who had previously been a mix of races and ages, have become "increasingly younger and whiter."
"Older advertising directors of color found themselves pushed out through buyouts, or outright terminated, but those vacancies were rapidly filled with younger, white individuals," the lawsuit said.
Furthermore, they claim that any attempts to complain about such discrimination was retaliated against and only met with further discrimination.
So, just how much merit does this lawsuit have? If The Times' board of directors and executive is any indication, then it has quite a bit. According to the lawsuit, only four of the 14 members of the Times board of directors are women, while only one of the 10 members of the company's executive committee is female.
Speaking out against the lawsuit, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy called the suit "entirely without merit" and said the company intends to "fight it vigorously in court."
"This lawsuit contains a series of recycled, scurrilous and unjustified attacks on both (president & CEO) Mark Thompson and Meredith Levien. It also completely distorts the realities of the work environment at The New York Times," Murphy said.
In the meantime, Grant and Walker are seeking monetary damages and attorney costs.