Alcoholics Anonymous sues to recover original manuscript
Scandal-plagued Fox News hit with more lawsuits in U.S. court
Fox News was hit with new sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits on Monday, adding to the catalog of complaints that has rattled the U.S. cable news network and its corporate parent 21st Century Fox Inc.
New York City lawyer Douglas Wigdor filed lawsuits in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of Kathleen Lee, a Fox News Radio shift editor who says she was sexually harassed and subjected to “unceasing retaliation” for complaining, and Naima Farrow, who maintains she was fired from her job as an accounts payable coordinator after telling supervisors she was pregnant.
In a third case in the same court, Vidya Mann, a Fox News accounts receivable specialist, said she was taken on as a temporary employee but passed over for permanent jobs in favor of white coworkers.
A spokeswoman at Fox News said the company believes the suits are without merit, noting that the company took prompt action and takes all complaints of discrimination seriously.
The new legal claims come as Fox News is already battling a series of lawsuits that led to the resignations of former chief executive Roger Ailes, who died last week, star anchor Bill O’Reilly and network co-president Bill Shine.
Wigdor said he was also representing an unidentified black information technology employee who was subjected to racially insensitive remarks by Bob Beckel, an on-air host who was fired last week, days after the worker complained. The original manuscript that became the basis for Alcoholics Anonymous is the subject of a new lawsuit by the organization, which wants to reclaim it before it can be auctioned next month.
According to a complaint filed in New York on Monday, the working draft for AA’s basic text, known as the Big Book and describing the famous 12-step program to help people stop drinking and stay sober, is scheduled to be auctioned on June 8 by Profiles in History in Calabasas, California.
But the plaintiff Alcoholics Anonymous World Services said the seller, Ken Roberts, had no right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979, though because of the “extreme negligence” of others was never turned over.
AA said it learned about the gift in 2007, three months after Roberts bought the manuscript for $992,000 at Sotheby’s, and sued after he refused its demand to turn over the manuscript rather than sell it.
Profiles in History has estimated that the manuscript could fetch $2 million to $3 million.
The lawsuit filed in a state court in Manhattan names the auction house, Roberts and Questroyal Fine Art, a New York gallery that displayed the manuscript this month, as defendants.
“The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history,” and the defendants “are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain,” the complaint said.
Roberts and a spokeswoman for Profiles in History did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Questroyal declined to comment.
The Big Book, also known as “Alcoholics Anonymous,” was written mainly by AA co-founder William Wilson, better known as “Bill W.”
First published in 1939, it is in its fourth edition and has sold more than 30 million copies, according to AA’s website. The group has more than 2.1 million individual members.
AA said Bill W.’s widow inherited the original manuscript after his 1971 death and gifted it to Barry Leach in 1978, who the following year gifted it back to AA upon his death, which occurred in 1985.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in June 1935 in Akron, Ohio.