BOO. Happy Halloween! In honor of today’s holiday, we figured we’d share some creepy crawlies of our own, culled from the pages of Sandra Guzman’s civil complaint against the New York Post and its editor, Col Allan. Guzman is suing over alleged employment discrimination on the basis of her race, national origin, and sex. The original suit was filed in 2009, after Tempo, the Latino interest section headed by Guzman, folded and she was fired. The suit is back in the news when a court dismissed Guzman’s claim against News Corp., the Post‘s holding company, and ruled that the suit would go to trial.
Guzman, who is Puerto Rican, was not only subjected to racist nicknames, it seems, but also ’90s-style race and gender humor at her expense and the expense of other women and people of color at the company. The 41 pages go by quickly; it’s a pretty fun hate-read.
1. A seriously unfunny West Side Story joke:
Michael Riedel, the Post’s Broadway columnist, regularly greeted Ms. Guzman by singing, “I want to live in America,” from West Side Story with a Spanish accent. On one occasion, Anne Aquilina, the Post’s administrative editor, asked Ms. Guzman if candles in her office related to “Santeria or Voodoo.”
2. An uncomfortable nickname from a superior:
In or around 2007, Mr. Goodstein called Ms. Guzman “Cha Cha No. 1” and referred to Ms. Haiman-Marreo, who marketed Tempo at that time and is a Hispanic woman, as “Cha Cha No. 2.”
3. Col Allan sharing, um, war stories with female staff:
On or around April 20, 2007, Ms. Guzman was drinking with three female Post journalists at a bar near the Post‘s offices, frequented by Post employees. Defendant Allan joined the three women and shared stories about the “voracious sexual appetite” of former-Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, including a story about how Mr. Dunleavy purportedly had sex with a female fan in a closet of the bar where they were.
4. The Post‘s version of the casting couch:
According to Ms. Guzman, supervisors slept with interns while promising them jobs, and it was widely discussed at the office and in newspapers that Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to a strip club called Scores and visited the club frequently himself during the work day.
5. A Post dude-bro trading jobs for tricks from subordinates:
It was widely discussed by members of the Post editorial department that a white, male editor had offered a “permanent reporter job” to a young female copy assistant in exchange for a “blowjob.”
Then things get a really weird. On the next page is an excerpt of the account of the internal strife at the Post over Sean Delonas’s 2009 cartoon in which a chimpanzee ambiguously portrayed either Congress or President Obama. During the ordeal, Guzman was told by a superior to “stop listening to Al Sharpton.”
The day the cartoon was published, Jennifer Jehn, the Post‘s senior vice president of human resources, became aware that Ms. Guzman was upset about it and stopped by her office. Ms. Guzman told Ms. Jehn that she believed the cartoon to be racist and offensive and that she was upset about being associated with it.
Ms. Guzman testified that at the same meeting she told Ms. Jehn that she believed the cartoon epitomized a larger problem with racism at the Post and complained, among other things, about Mr. Goodstein’s sexual harassment, Defendant Allan’s sexual harassment and racially demeaning conduct, Mr. Reidel’s singing, David Boyle calling his female subordinates his “harem” and supervisors propositioning young, female interns while promising them jobs. Ms. Guzman testified that she asked Ms. Jehn to conduct workshop trainings on sexual harassment and racism, and to take a look at recruitment efforts to hire more women and people of color. In contrast, Ms. Jehn testified that the conversation was limited to Ms. Guzman’s complaining that she was upset about the content of the cartoon and that Ms. Guzman did not tell her that she believed that the cartoon was representative of a racially hostile environment at the Post or describe any incident of harassment. Ms. Jehn spoke to Defendant Allan about Ms. Guzman’s complaints.
After the cartoon was published, Ms. Guzman sent an email to the entire management staff at the Post and to members of the public stating, “Please know that I had nothing to do with the Sean Delonas cartoon. I neither commissioned or approved it. I saw it yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management.” Defendant Allan saw a copy of this email and was disappointed that Ms. Guzman had not “raised those concerns with the people that she worked for and with before she did so publicly.”
Around the time of the publication of the cartoon, Mr. Robinowitz, Ms. Guzman’s direct
supervisor, tried to convince her that the cartoon was not racially offensive and told her to stop listening to Al Sharpton. Ms. Guzman told Mr. Robinowitz that the Post had a deeper problem regarding race that needed to be addressed.
See the the report in its entirety on the next page.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 31, 2013