Advertising Employees Marjorie Walker and Ernestine Grant to Sue the New York Times for Discrimination

The New York Times building on Oct. 1, 2014, in New York City.   ANDREW BURTON/GETTY IMAGES
The New York Times building on Oct. 1, 2014, in New York City.

Paper denies ‘unjustified’ claims that CEO Mark Thompson introduced culture that favors ‘young, white’ and single staffers to older female and black employees

Mark Thompson, the chief executive of the New York Times and former director-general of the BBC, is facing a multimillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that he introduced a culture of “deplorable discrimination” based on age, race and gender at the newspaper.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two black female employees in their sixties in New York on Thursday, claims that under Thompson’s leadership the US paper of record has “become an environment rife with discrimination”.

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. “In furtherance of these discriminatory goals, the Times has created a workplace rife with disparities.”

Eileen Murphy, the Times’ head of communications, said: “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.”

The lawsuit, filed at the US district court of southern New York, claims that since Thompson became CEO of the Times in 2012, after eight years as director-general of the BBC, the paper’s advertising staff has been “systematically becoming increasingly younger and whiter”.

It is claimed that Thompson, who was in charge of the BBC during a series of scandals over the way the broadcaster treats older women including newsreader Moira Stewart, Countryfile’s Miriam O’Reilly and Strictly Come Dancing’s Arlene Phillips, “brought his misogynistic and ageist attitudes across the Atlantic to New York City”.

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Source: The Guardian | Rupert Neate in New York