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Federal lawsuit alleges discrimination at The New York Times

DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

A federal class action lawsuit filed against The New York Times alleges that age, gender, and race discrimination is endemic at the paper.

The suit asserts that black, female, and older employees are victims of “discriminatory barriers to equal opportunity advancement.” It also alleges that the Times has an ideal customer — young, white and wealthy — and an ideal employee — young, white, and unencumbered with a family — to connect with such a customer.

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

A spokeswoman for the publication called the suit meritless, saying that it “distorts the realities of the work environment at The New York Times.”

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The complaint names the Times, chief executive Mark Thompson, and chief revenue officer Meredith Levien as defendants. It was filed on behalf of Ernestine Grant and Marjorie Walker, who are both black, female employees in their 60s who work in advertising for the company.

“Recently, diversity has been subverted at every turn throughout the organization, and in particular on the business side in the Advertising [sic] division,” the complaint states.

Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman, rejected the suit’s allegations.

“We strongly disagree with any claim that The Times, Mr. Thompson or Ms. Levien have discriminated against any individual or group of employees,” she said in an e-mail. “The suit is entirely without merit and we intend to fight it vigorously in court.”

Thompson, the lawsuit alleges, worked to marginalize the most powerful women in the company “who he could not control.”

The complaint says a workplace atmosphere where “strong older female voices are considered ‘pushy’ and ‘difficult’ rather than ‘assertive’ and ‘aggressive.’”

Only four of the 14 members of the Times board of directors are women, and only one of the 10 members of the company’s executive committee is female, according to the complaint.

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The plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages and attorney costs.