New York Times chief executive Mark Thompson is facing a multi-million lawsuit that claims he brought an “environment rife with discrimination based on age, race and gender.”
Thompson, former director general of the BBC, and Meredith Levien, another executive, have been named in the class action case filed by two black employees in their sixties.
The claimants, Ernestine Grant and Marjorie Walker, say in the lawsuit filed at the U.S. district court of southern New York that the paper prefers employees to be young and white, and those who do not have a family. They also claim that the publication, under Thompson’s leadership, has “become an environment rife with discrimination.”
Under Thompson, who became the CEO of the New York Times in 2012 following his tenure as director general of BBC (a role he served for eight years), the advertising staff of the publication has been “systematically becoming increasingly younger and whiter,” the lawsuit claims, as reported by The Guardian.
“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. “In furtherance of these discriminatory goals, the Times has created a workplace rife with disparities.”
The lawyer for the plaintiffs said the lawsuit could be extended up to 50 victims.
Grant and Walker are employed in the commercial department of the paper. They said that they have been “packaged out” of the department and replaced with employees who are whiter and younger.
When he was in charge of BBC, Thompson was involved in a number of scandals over the treatment of older women – the victims included newsreader Moira Stewart, Countryfile’s Miriam O’Reilly and Strictly Come Dancing’s Arlene Phillips. The lawsuit says that Thompson “brought his misogynistic and ageist attitudes across the Atlantic to New York City.”
The lawsuit comes two years after the New York Times’ first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, was fired. It is believed that Abramson’s employment was terminated after she complained of being paid less than her male counterparts, BBC reports. However, the publication has denied the claim.
Of the United States’ 10 largest newspapers, the New York Times has had the least number of female bylines, according to a 2014 survey by the Women’s Media Center. The study revealed that 69 percent of the stories were written by men, while 75 percent of the opinion writers were male.