* Complaint alleges retaliatory firing
* Plaintiff objected to Obama cartoon
* Newspaper says plaintiff’s job cut amid falling ad sales
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - A former New York Post editor has sued the newspaper and its parent News Corp (NWSA.O), saying she was fired after complaining about sexism and racism, including a cartoon that appeared to liken U.S. President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.
According to a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court, Sandra Guzman, a black and Puerto Rican associate editor, was terminated on Sept. 29 in retaliation for complaints about allegedly pervasive racism and sexism at the newspaper.
Monday’s lawsuit said Guzman, the “only female editor of color at the Post,” was among those who complained about a Feb. 18 cartoon that depicted a policeman shooting a crazed chimpanzee, a play on a similar incident in Connecticut.
The caption read: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” This led many to view the chimpanzee as a depiction of Obama, who a day earlier had signed into law a $787 billion economic stimulus package.
New York Post Chairman Rupert Murdoch later apologized to readers for the cartoon.
A spokeswoman for the newspaper said Guzman’s position was eliminated when Tempo, a monthly insert she edited, was closed amid plummeting advertising sales in the newspaper industry. The spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A request for comment from Guzman and her lawyer was not immediately returned.
According to the lawsuit, Guzman worked for the newspaper for six years and had received strong performance reviews as recently as July.
The lawsuit detailed several alleged instances of racist or sexist conduct at the paper, including one senior executive who supposedly referred often to Guzman as “Cha Cha #1.”
Guzman is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, including for emotional distress and harm to her career, and other remedies.
The case is Guzman v. News Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 09-9323. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)