NEW YORK CITY — “It’s somewhat ironic that the New York Times, that has a bent on liberal social issues, has taken to treating its employees who are over 40, who are women and who are people of color, treating them like second-class citizens.”
This from attorney Doug Wigdor, who on Thursday afternoon filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the New York Times, its CEO Mark Thompson and the paper’s Chief Revenue Officer, Meredith Levien. The lawsuit has 12 cause of actions that range from allegations of unequal pay to corporate profiling, “People of color were not being promoted. Older people were not being promoted.”
Ernestine Grant and Marjorie Walker are the two current Times employees who brought the 61-page lawsuit against the award-winning paper. The two women combined have nearly 25 years of experience in advertising and sales at the Gray Lady, “We have relationships and a track record of sales, which I am an example of, that as well and it said to us we were not wanted and we would be pushed out.”
Both Grant and Walker’s sales performances have earned them awards and praise by past management at the paper, according to the civil complaint, but once a new regime emerged at the Times in 2012 with the hiring of Thompson and his team, Walker says things changed and those being hired were younger, white males.
“It was about the ‘fresh faces,’ people that looked a certain way that were not of a certain age,” Walker said. “They didn’t represent any kind of ethnic people or any one like that.”
In fact, the complaint alleges that in 2013 Levien made the “fresh faces” comment during a department presentation, adding the desire for “people who look like the people we are selling to.”
The two women whose roster of clients includes big box retailers as well clients in fashion and fine jewelry found themselves questioning management, “It all pointed to the fact that certain groups were being groomed, promoted being given certain assignments that would help them advance their career and those groups were never African-American.”
However, Wigdor, who has had numerous racial profiling cases in the past including the infamous Shop and Frisk scandal exploded by PIX11 News, says that Times management punished his client professionally for raising concerns.
“After she complained she was moved from her position where she had been performing very well in jewelry and was moved into the help wanted recruitment area,” Wigdor said. “Which was a demotion.”
The Times did respond to PIX11 News inquiry for comment on the suit. A spokesperson issued the following statement via email:
“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. We strongly disagree with any claim that The Times, Mr. Thompson or Ms. Levien have discriminated against any individual or group of employees. The suit is entirely without merit and we intend to fight it vigorously in court.”