Jason Donner, a former producer at Fox News, has initiated a lawsuit against the network, alleging that his termination was due to his refusal to report misleading information, particularly regarding the adverse effects of COVID vaccines.
Contrarily, Fox News attributes his dismissal to violations, including missing work, which Donner ironically blames on illness caused by the COVID vaccine.
Donner’s lawsuit, filed in D.C. court, claims discrimination by Fox News for his opposition to false news stories and his political stance. In June 2021, when Donner was tasked with covering a story about Sen. Ron Johnson’s concerns regarding COVID vaccines, Donner insisted on including a medical expert’s perspective to counterbalance the story. Despite his adherence to factual reporting, which earned him praise from colleagues, it seemingly displeased the management.
Sen. Johnson, in a press conference covered by other Fox News reporters, discussed individuals who suffered adverse reactions to the vaccines. Despite declaring himself pro-vaccine, Johnson sought data from Pfizer and Moderna on these reactions, citing difficulties faced by affected individuals in communicating their experiences without censorship.
Donner’s grievances extended beyond this incident. On January 6, 2021, he criticized Fox News’ coverage of what he termed an “insurrection,” expressing his concerns for safety. In October 2021, he objected to Tucker Carlson’s portrayal of the January 6 events and worked on a story to counter false claims.
By 2022, Fox management labeled Donner’s behavior as creating a “toxic environment” and accused him of lacking self-awareness. His lawsuit contends that his refusal to align with Fox News’ alleged far-right agenda led to his firing.
Donner’s termination in September 2022 was officially attributed to tardiness and absenteeism. He, however, links his absence to a severe reaction to the COVID vaccine, the very topic he had previously insisted on reporting accurately. Despite working while ill, he eventually had to take sick leave, which he claims led to his dismissal.
The lawsuit, invoking the D.C. Human Rights Act, was filed in D.C. Superior Court and later moved to federal court. Both Fox’s and Donner’s lawyers have not responded to requests for comment.
“Despite being ill, he continued to work because he did not want to leave his coworkers short-handed. Nonetheless, by September 26, 2022, he was too ill to continue to work and so he called in sick. His body gave out on him because he had kept working while ill,” the lawsuit stated.
“On September 27, 2022, Donner’s supervisor … accused Donner of being irresponsible and challenged Donner’s work ethic, despite the fact that Donner worked past 9pm three nights in the preceding week while ill from the COVID vaccine. Essentially, [supervisor NuNu] Japaridze faulted Donner for calling in sick the day before when he was recovering from the COVID vaccine. The call ended with Japaridze hanging up on Donner,” the lawsuit further detailed.
The next day, the D.C. Bureau Chief informed Donner of his termination, citing his lateness and absence from work, which Donner’s lawsuit alleges was a pretextual firing based on his political views and affiliation.
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