Fox29 Station Meeting Leads to Lawsuit

For those of you that don't remember, Tom Burlington, ex-anchor for Fox29, was suspended last year for use of a racial slur during a station meeting.

Burlington was fired eight months later when his contract was up. He is now suing Fox and its parent company News Corp. claiming that he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his race, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. By the way, he's white.

The suit was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court, following a previous complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which no outcome was determined.

So what happened?

According to Burlington, he and colleagues were in a planning meeting on July 23, 2007 discussing reporter Robin Taylor's story on the NAACP symbolic "burial" of a certain racial slur. In the report, Taylor refers to the slur as the "n-word." Burlington disagreed with the use of the phrase claiming it "ultimately gives the word itself more power." He proceeded to use the actual word twice during the meeting.

After noticing that an African American news producer was uncomfortable, he apologized. Later, a co-worker told him that he had offended others and he gave the sorry speech to everyone that was in the meeting claiming that he "did not in any way intend his use of the word to be offensive," reports the Inquirer.

Long story short, Burlington was told on July 3, six days after his suspension by former news director Phil Metlin (who is white) began, that if he underwent sensitivity training, he could return to work. He was confirmed to go back to work by the station's counselor, but the next day, was told by station manager Mike Renda (who is also white) the negative publicity and concern for the anchor’s safety were cause for termination and was given him the option to resign.

Instead, Burlington remained on suspension and was fired on February 19, 2008 when his contract was up.

A Fox29er confirms that they have seen the complaint, but have not yet been served, according to the paper.   

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