This past December, Colleen Dominguez filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against Fox Sports 1. In the complaint, Dominguez, who came to the network in 2014 as a sideline and features reporter after a long run at ESPN, alleged that all the choice assignments were given to younger reporters, most notably Erin Andrews. (The suit listed Dominguez’s age as 54; Andrews is 37.) With that lawsuit pending and enhancing the aura of doom already permeating all Fox offices, now comes word that Dominguez’s producer, Jacquelyn Bower, was fired for reasons that remain in dispute.
One FS1 source tells Deadspin that Bower was “collateral damage” in the network’s feud with Dominguez. Another believes that Bower, who was close to Dominguez, was fired because she knew things that could help the plaintiff and hurt office morale.
Among the alleged things that Bower knew, according to multiple sources, was that FS1 higher-ups had ordered Dominguez to get hair extensions in hopes that she would wear her hair like Erin Andrews.
“They sent her to Erin Andrews’s hairdresser, then said she needed extensions, and even brought in the person who did J. Lo’s extensions,” a source says. “They spent thousands of dollars on this, but Colleen just laughed. There was no way she was ever going to wear those.”
Further, these sources allege, Dominguez was told by co-workers that bosses were spreading word around the office that they wanted her to “get a facelift.” This inspired giggles from Dominguez, but not compliance.
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.
These latest claims just add to the struggling network’s problems. Last month, FS1 appeared to be straining to flaunt its feminist bona fides when it sponsored an in-house symposium on women in sports broadcasting. Actress Geena Davis was brought in; her presence, for all her glitz, merely bewildered many attendees and gave the proceedings an unserious, even clueless, vibe.
At least one employee took the symposium seriously. Near its end, an attendee brought the otherwise boring session to a climax by raising the heretofore unmentioned Dominguez lawsuit, which she referred to as an “elephant in the room.”
“It kind of makes me wonder, what is going to be the difference in the future?” she asked. “We’re not only being discriminated against gender wise, but also with age.”
Davis, clearly flustered, responded to the Dominguez query by asking the crowd if they’d seen The Hunting Ground, a documentary about campus rape. “Appalling!” she said. Then she brought up “the Bill Cosby situation.”
“When are we going to stop this?” Davis said.
Laura Okmin, the widely-respected sideline and features reporter at Fox, jumped in. Okmin told the questioner that she knows that women who work in front of the cameras “have a shelf life” on their gigs, and that older women cannot get airtime that older men can.
“I’ve never fought that,” Okmin said. “I’ve understood that.” She then advised other women not to fight, either, and to instead learn off-camera skills to maintain some value to their employers as they age. Davis agreed, and the event was declared over.
“I love Laura,” says a Fox source, “she’s a great journalist and an amazing talent. But I hated her answer there. I hated that. Laura doesn’t get the assignments she used to get.”
Bower declined an interview request from Deadspin. (“I would not like to comment on my situation at this particular time,” she said.) Dominguez remains employed by Fox but, according to multiple sources, is not getting any assignments from her bosses. She did not respond to a request for comment for this story; her lawsuit can be read in full here.
Deadspin requested comment from Fox spokesperson Lou D’Ermilio on the hair extension and facelift allegations, and Bower’s firing.
“We’re going to decline comment given that this is a pending legal matter,” D’Ermilio responded.
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