Suit: Head of religious TV stations sexually harassed employee
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A woman is claiming she was sexually harassed and racially discriminated against by the president of a media company that broadcasts religious programming in the Chicago area, according to a federal lawsuit.
Ericka Mauldin worked as an account sales executive for Oxford Media, which also did business as Escomedia, for roughly two years. She filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court.
Oxford Media handles the business functions of three Chicago-area television stations, including WJYS, MCTV and Prism, according to the suit. The stations mostly broadcast religious content and paid programming.
WJYS regularly reaches about 11 million viewers, where the “inspirational line up represents some of the country’s largest mega ministries,” according to the station’s website.
“Million of churchgoers and spiritual seekers turn to WJYS The Way to supplement their worship,” the website states.
From May 2012 until she was terminated in May 2014, Mauldin was responsible for servicing existing clients for WJYS, MCTV and Prism, as well as generating new business for the stations, the suit claims.
But the company’s president often sexually harassed and racially discriminated against her, subjecting her to a hostile work environment, the suit alleges. She filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and was issued a Right To Sue letter in July.
On numerous occasions throughout her employment, the suit alleges, the company’s president made sexual comments at Mauldin, including that she had “sexy red lips,” and that he “imagined she was using those ‘red lips’ well in the field.”
The suit also claims he told Mauldin she would “do well on the North Side with white pastors” because they “love them some beautiful black women.”
Mauldin repeatedly rejected the comments and told the company’s president that he made her uncomfortable, the suit claims.
Near the end of 2013, the suit also claims Oxford Media hired two white account sales executives who were assigned to more lucrative accounts than Mauldin and other African-American sales personnel.
When Mauldin complained of racial discrimination this April, the company’s president responded by saying “everyone knows I don’t like black people,” the suit claims.
The suit alleges he also said that “black people from the hood don’t know how to make money.”
Mauldin was fired on May 9 for an “unsatisfactory sales performance” despite the fact that she among the top three account sales executives in the company and received favorable feedback from Oxford Media throughout her employment, the suit claims.
The suit also alleges Mauldin was not paid all of the commissions she earned during her employment, and that Oxford Media owes her more than $23,000..
Oxford Media, Escomedia and the company’s president are all listed as defendants in the suit.
The seven-count lawsuit claims racial discrimination, retaliation, sexual discrimination and sexual harassment and violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, among other things. Mauldin is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
A representative from Oxford Media could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.