MANHATTAN (CN) - The New York Post cannot access redacted material from the journals of a former editor who accused the tabloid of rampant racism and sexism, but it can test her emotional-distress claims with an independent medical review, a federal judge ruled.
When she sued in 2009, Emmy Award-winning journalist Sandra Guzman said she was the national tabloid's only female editor of color. Guzman also took credit for the paper's Tempo section aimed at Latino readers.
Her 38-page complaint alleged that a top editor sexually harassed women, shared pornographic pictures on his cellphone and bragged about getting kicked out of the strip club Scores with "two Australian political leaders."
Wide latitude in the Post newsroom for sexism, anti-Semitism and racism culminated with is publication of a cartoon that ostensibly portrayed President Barack Obama as a rabid chimpanzee on Feb. 18, 2009.
In the cartoon, two policemen look at a chimpanzee with two bullet holes in its chest, lying dead in a pool of blood.
One cop holds a smoking gun, and the other cop says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
Guzman says that "virtually all the executives" at the Post are white men, creating a work environment "permeated with racist and sexist conduct and comments towards employees of color and women."
Given "the country's long history of racist imagery of blacks being depicted as apes, gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys," Guzman says she told her bosses "that the chimpanzee cartoon was yet another in a litany of examples of the racism pervasive in the work environment at the Post."
She says they fired her later that year, on Sept. 29.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Ellis made two critical decisions last week related to pretrial discovery.
The Post sought leave to conduct an independent medical review of Guzman because her therapist had testified that the "mild depression" Guzman had experienced because of the paper's discrimination lifted in December 2011.
This could undermine Guzman's claim that she ""has suffered, and continues to suffer, severe mental anguish and emotional distress" from her alleged treatment.
Ellis said the discrepancy warrants an independent examination.
The Post had also hoped to lifted redactions on Guzman's work journals logged as "personal story regarding feelings of falling in love" and "personal story regarding sexual feelings."
Ellis was less receptive to this maneuver.
"After reviewing the submitted materials, the court determines that the entries in question were properly redacted," he wrote. "The redacted material contains scattered musings and story ideas, which the court finds are not relevant to Guzman's claims or any defenses, including the question of whether the behavior challenged by Guzman was subjectively harassing."