Yet another lawsuit against Fox News for sexual harassment.The Bill Cosby of the Media world…Indeed.
Fox News contributor sues network, Ailes for gender discrimination
Julie Roginsky alleges that Fox News pressured her to defend Ailes, and retaliated when she refused.
Fox News’ legal troubles are growing.
Contributor Julie Roginsky filed a gender discrimination lawsuit on Monday morning against the network, its former chairman Roger Ailes and its current co-president Bill Shine. The complaint, filed with the New York county clerk, accuses Ailes of sexual harassment and Shine of having “aided and abetted Ailes’ acts of retaliation and harassment.” (A copy of the full complaint is here.)Roginsky claims that in early 2015, Ailes offered her a regular spot on Fox News’ daily panel show “The Five” in exchange for having a sexual relationship with him and then attempted to sabotage her career when she refused. Roginsky also claims that Fox News executives retaliated against her when she refused to publicly defend Ailes last year.
In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. (Ailes has repeatedly denied all the allegations.) In response to the suit, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox brought in the law firm Paul Weiss to conduct an investigation into Ailes’ behavior. Two weeks later, Ailes was forced out of Fox News, albeit with a $40 million severance package.
Roginsky claims in her lawsuit that Fox News executives pressured her and other employees to publicly defend Ailes and retaliated against her when she refused to do so. She also says that Fox News executives, including Shine, never told her about the Paul Weiss investigation.
Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Ailes’ attorney Susan Estrich told NPR’s David Folkenflik that Roginsky’s allegations are “total hogwash.”
“The idea that Mr. Ailes would pressure Ms. Roginsky or any other women to have sexual relations with him is total nonsense,” she said.
Since Ailes was forced out of the Fox News, 21st Century Fox has struck a number of multi-million dollar settlements with women who accused him and others at the network of harassment. Most notably, 21st Century Fox settled with Carlson for $20 million in September 2016. It also reportedly settled with Laurie Dhue and Juliet Huddy, who had accused host Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, for more than $1 million each. It paid more than $2.5 million to settle with Tamara Holder, who accused Fox News Latino vice president Francisco Cortes of sexual harassment. None of the settlements included an acknowledgement of any wrongdoing.
But Fox News still faces multiple ongoing lawsuits. In August 2016, former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros sued the network, alleging that it created a culture of misogyny and sexual harassment. So far, she’s refused to settle. In March, two black employees sued Fox News for racial discrimination, alleging that their supervisor repeatedly made racist comments to them.
The company also faces the prospect of a federal investigation into its handling of sexual harassment complaints. Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are reportedly looking into whether Fox News illegally spied on journalists and whether 21st Century Fox violated securities law by failing to disclose to its investors that it secretly paid millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment complaints. The Financial Times reported last week that former Fox News CFO Mark Kranz has been offered immunity in exchange for testifying against the company.