On the same day in November that former New York Post editor Sandra Guzman filed a lawsuit accusing the tabloid of ignoring racist and sexual harassment, the paper fired a black reporter named Austin Fenner, who had worked at the city desk. Now Fenner's filed his own lawsuit (using Guzman's lawyer) alleging that he was subject to unfair employment practices, unlawful retaliation, and accusing editors of racially-motivated news coverage. Fenner claims he was "routinely humiliated," "openly cursed at" and subjected to "Jim Crow"-style segregation.
According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Huffington Post, Fenner claims he was fired because he is black and had objected to a controversial political cartoon that depicted the author of the president's stimulus package as a chimpanzee shot dead by cops. The lawsuit also claims that for five months Michelle Gotthelf, the Post's metropolitan editor and Fenner's direct superviser, as well as Daniel Greenfied, the assignment editor and deputy metropolitan editor, banned him from the newsroom:
They told Mr. Fenner he was forbidden from coming into the newsroom anymore unless he got their permission in advance... Mr. Fenner's ban from the newsroom was an act of utter humiliation designed to strip him of his dignity and self-respect as a reporter and as a man and was based on his race and/or color and implemented to punish him for his opposition to Defendants' discriminatory practices. It was also a throwback to the days of Jim Crow segregation.
The lawsuit also reveals that the Post "refused a request by Governor David Paterson, the first Black Governor of the State of New York, to be interviewed about the cartoon...The white editors at the Post summarily refused to interview him... Such a rejection of a sitting Governor is unprecedented and practically unheard of in journalism."