FS1 has come under plenty of fire for various programming decisions lately, but some of what came out Monday about their personnel decisions has the potential to cause even more problems for the network. Former Fox Sports reporter Colleen Dominguez, who joined Fox from ESPN in February 2014, filed a gender- and age-discrimination lawsuit against the company in December and spoke about it in January, and Deadspin has now run a piece from Dave McKenna citing a variety of unnamed Fox sources that make some strong allegations against the company. One of the sources’ claims, that Dominguez’s producer Jackie Bower was fired as “collateral damage” in Fox’s feud with Dominguez, appears to have been endorsed by Bower herself on Twitter.
She declined to comment to Deadspin for their piece, but chimed in on Richard Deitsch’s tweet about Fox’s current narrative being a mess:
This 'collateral damage' agrees https://t.co/Ka8cRA89qi
— Jackie Bower (@JacBower9) February 8, 2016
McKenna’s piece has another source who believes Bower “was fired because she knew things that could help the plaintiff and hurt office morale,” which allegedly include FS1 higher-ups ordering Dominguez to get hair extensions. The piece also has sources saying Dominguez “was told by co-workers that bosses were spreading word around the office that they wanted her to ‘get a facelift.'” Here’s the key part of what it specifically says about Bower:
Multiple sources told Deadspin that Bower was summoned to Fox’s human resources department shortly after Dominguez’s attempt to settle her grievances with the network through mediation blew up, and shortly before Dominguez’s lawsuit was filed. Inside the HR offices, these sources say, Bower was grilled by a department head and a top network official about her views on the allegations. One source says Bower told friends and co-workers that she felt like she was being “interrogated,” yet still asserted that she, too, believed that FS1 was a bastion of age and gender discrimination.
Days after the meeting, Bower was fired. Multiple sources say the HR department told Bower she was being fired because Fox had canceled America’s Pregame, a daily studio show.
“The problem with that is [Bower] never worked for America’s Pregame,” says a source. “She was Colleen’s producer. That was just an excuse to get rid of her.”
Bower has not yet filed any litigation related to her firing, but according to multiple sources, she is peeved, and has hired a lawyer.
Like Dominguez, Bower previously worked with ESPN. She won a 2011 Sports Emmy with ESPN for her work as an associate producer on their 2010 World Cup coverage, and a 2015 Sports Emmy with Fox as a feature producer for NASCAR on Fox. Having her voice added to these Deadspin allegations doesn’t look great for Fox, and it certainly doesn’t help overcome the claims that their narrative is a mess.
The Deadspin piece also makes plenty of further allegations against Fox, including their discussion of a Geena Davis appearance at an in-house symposium on women in sports broadcasting. There’s a fascinating video of an employee asking Davis about the Dominguez lawsuit:
This lawsuit may well be an elephant in the room for some time, and it’s certainly not one that makes Fox look good.