The chief executive of the New York Times was hit with a multimillion-dollar class-action workplace-discrimination lawsuit on Thursday alleging that he cultivated a culture of discrimination in the paper’s advertising department based on race, gender, and age. The suit was filed in New York by two black female employees in their 60s, according to the Guardian, and accuses CEO Mark Thompson of encouraging the ad department to progressively get younger and whiter during his tenure, which began in 2012 after he joined the paper following a controversial rein as director-general of the BBC where he faced similar allegations.
From the Guardian:
The class action lawsuit, seen by the Guardian, alleges that the Times, which promotes its liberal and inclusive social values, preferentially favours its “ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family)” at the expense of older female and black employees. “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, which the women’s lawyer said could be extended to up to 50 similar alleged victims, states … Thompson is said to have hired Meredith Levien, the company’s chief revenue officer and a co-defendant, to “carry out his vision of the ideal workforce”. The lawsuit claims that under Thompson, who was paid $8.7m (£6m) last year, and Levien, who was paid $1.8m (£1.2m), “age, sex and race discrimination became the modus operandi at the Times”. In speeches to staff, Levien is said to have made it clear that she wanted a workforce with “fresh faces” populated by “people who look like the people we are selling to”. She is alleged to have told staff that “this isn’t what our sales team should look like”. The advertising staff, many of whom are older, black and female, said Levien’s comments were “shockingly rife with racially charged innuendos”.
A spokesperson for the Times denied the allegations saying: “This lawsuit contains a series of recycled, scurrilous and unjustified attacks on both Mark Thompson and Meredith Levien. It also completely distorts the realities of the work environment at The New York Times.”