Fox News Channel may portray itself as the self-appointed guardian of America’s conservative values, but Rupert’s favourite network seems to have a rather liberal definition of sexual harassment.
Lawyers for the network responding to a discrimination suit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have argued that the lewd language of its vice president Joe Chillemi – however tasteless – does not constitute sexual harassment or discrimination, reports industry rag Broadcasting & Cable.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York:
- Chillemi routinely used gross obscenities and vulgarities when describing women or their body parts (referring, for example, to women’s br*asts as “t*ts” and declaring that something was “as useless as t*ts on a bull”).
- Chillemi routinely cursed at and otherwise denigrated women employees and treated them in a demeaning way (including telling women not to be a “p–sy” but to “be a man”, and referring to women as being a “b*tch”).
- He made a number of derogatory comments about pregnant women (such as regularly stating that a pregnant woman had “t*ts” that were “f—ing huge” and like “cannons” or “melons” and the on-air talent’s br*asts needed to be “covered” or not shown when the pregnant woman was being filmed).
- In addition, at a department discussion about a segment on sexism in the workplace, Chillemi said that in choosing who to hire “if it came down between a man or a woman, of course I’d pick the man. The woman would most likely get pregnant and leave.”
Fox’s lawyer, Steven Mintz, described the complaint as “legally baseless,” saying: “We don’t view any of the assertions in the action as either harassment or discrimination. This is a case involving bad language.”
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The suit more broadly charges that Fox has discriminated against Weiler and other female promotions employees by assigning women primarily to freelance positions with less benefits, less advancement potential and less job security and not appropriately assigning women to full staff positions.