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Sandra Guzman sues NY Post for discrimination

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 4:40 p.m.
Sandra Guzman sues NY Post for discrimination

According to Sandra Guzman, the New York Post cartoon depicting Barack Obama as a chimpanzee wasn't the first time the paper has engaged in racist, discriminatory practices. Guzman, with assistance from her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Post, citing "discriminatory treatment, harassment and unlawful retaliation" based on Guzman's ethnicity and gender. She's seeking monetary damages.

In the documented complaint, Guzman said she was let go after she vehemently protested the infamous Obama cartoon, which was the end of a long line of issues the Emmy Award-winning journalist had with the Post. "What we hope to get out of this lawsuit is that no person of color, whether they be Black, Latino or Asian, should ever have to work in a hostile work environment based on their race or gender," said Thompson of Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly LLP. "We want to tell people that if someone complains about discrimination, they should not be retaliated against or have their career destroyed."

The complaint states that the Post, along with its parent company, News Corp., continues to "maintain, condone, tolerate, directly participate in and contribute to a hostile work environment against its female employees and employees of color." The picture that Guzman depicts of the Post's work environment is one of the good ol' boys network run amok, with the paper's editor in chief, Col Allan, as the ringleader.

One story depicts Allan walking up to Guzman and a group of female employees after a night of sharing drinks and showing them a picture of a naked man on his Blackberry while asking them, "What do you think of this?" No investigation was undertaken to confront the issue, despite Guzman's complaints. The complaint also accuses Allan of rubbing up against a female employee at a party and making sexually suggestive comments, "causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."

Les Goodstein, vice president of News Corp., is also named in the suit and accused of making inappropriate comments to Guzman, calling her "sexy" and "beautiful" and referring to her as "Cha Cha No. 1" in a dig at her ethnicity. According to the suit, one of the male senior editors sexually propositioned a young female copy assistant, promising a permanent reporter job in exchange for sexual favors.

It's all a little too much for Guzman's representation.

"As an African-American man, I feel strongly about discrimination in the workplace, and when I learned about what happened to Sandra Guzman, I had to take her case," said Thompson. "Because I realized that she brought this forth not only on behalf of herself, but on behalf of women and people of color at the Post." Thompson is known by most for his successful investigation and prosecution of the New York police officers who viciously attacked Abner Louima.

The suit also alleges that after Guzman conducted an interview with Dominican pitcher Pedro Martinez, who recently pitched the World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies, Allan asked Guzman if Martinez had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview.