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Source: Epic Times News

One of the nation’s top newspapers may not be very objective when selecting its employees. New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, who formerly served as the director-general of the BBC, is facing a class-action lawsuit alongside fellow executive Meredith Levien. The two allegedly discriminate prospective employees based on race, age, and gender.

The multimillion-dollar lawsuit was filed by two older black female employees, who say Levien created an “environment rife with discrimination” since taking over in 2012. The Guardian obtained a copy of the suit.

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

Unsurprsingly, senior New York Times officials have moved quickly to deny all of the allegations.

“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,” said Eileen Murphy, the corporate communications senior vice president for the Times.

BBC NEWS Details Discrimination
The case was filed by two black female employees in their sixties. It alleges the paper’s ideal employee is young and white, with no family…It comes two years after the dismissal from the New York Times of Jill Abramson, the newspaper’s first female executive editor.

THE GUARDIAN Reports Ideal Staff Matched Ideal Consumer
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”.

CNN Says Thompson Faced Discrimination Case Before
This is not the first time Thompson has faced discrimination lawsuits. In 2011, as head of the BBC, he was successfully sued for age discrimination. At the time, Thompson acknowledged that there were “too few older women broadcasting on the BBC.”

The ‘Ideal’ Employee

Discrimination appears to be a repeating theme in Thompson’s career. When he ran the BBC in 2011, he was successfully sued for discrimination on account of “too few older women broadcasting on the BBC.”

The plaintiffs in the discrimination case – 62-year-old Ernestine Grant and 61-year-old Marjorie Walker – allege older employees of color were replaced with “younger, white individuals” when they took buyouts or were fired. They also say the replacements were offered more generous compensation.

Grant and Walker charge Levien wanted the New York Times staff to “look like the people” they were selling too. The New York Times is commonly marketed to younger, white, wealthy individuals.

It’s not unusual for media companies to keep their target demographics in mind when creating content. What is highly unusual and downright despicable is using this as a foundation for selecting employees. Successful journalism is the result of competing ideologies and perspectives – something you don’t get from singling out one demographic to create and market this content. If the allegations are proven true, those who appreciate quality journalism would do well to find a better alternative to the New York Times.