Fox News paid Gretchen Carlson a $20 million settlement on Sept. 6, 2016, and thus relieved Roger Ailes from paying. This was reported by a person briefed on the settlement.
Carlson is a former Fox News anchor who accused Ailes of sexually harassing her while he was the chairman of Fox News. After she filed her lawsuit, the network immediately launched an investigation into the accusation of Ailes.
Andrea Tantaros also filed a lawsuit against Ailes. This, coupled with Carlsons’, caused many other women to speak out. These allegations shocked most of the country.
It has been 25 years since Anita Hill testified. She accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. But Thomas denied all of the accusations. Following that, her character was smeared and she was ostracized.
After Hill’s testimony, complaints of sexual harassment spiked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The testimony spurred men and women to talk about what went on in the workplace. It caused women to rethink various situations they had experienced. And they too, rethought whether other employees treated them fairly.
Hill, 25 years later, now says: “We’ve come a long way since then. It is now part of the public conversation.”
A long way and now Ailes’ case has wrapped up America in more controversy.
Despite the progress America has made in discussing workplace issues, there are still people like Donald Trump. He, for example, answered a question about what his daughter, Ivanka Trump, would do if someone harassed her. He replied that he hoped she would seek work at a different company. Eric Trump, his son, also said that he did not think that she would put herself in that type of situation because she was a strong woman.
She, however, explained that she has experienced harassment at her father’s construction sites. There was not much she could do in those situations. On her father’s remarks, she said that sexual harassment was “inexcusable in any setting.” She continued: “If it transpires, it needs to be reported and it needs to be dealt with on a company level.”
The briefed person said that the Fox network settled with a minimum of two other women and again, relieved Ailes from paying anything. They gave their complaints to the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP law firm. The network hired this law firm to investigate the accusations of Ailes.
On July 21, Ailes resigned from Fox News. The network confirmed the Carlson settlement then, minutes later, added that Greta Van Susteren was leaving. Her departure came after 14 years with Fox News. She posted on Facebook that the network had not felt like home for her for the past few years.
Her husband indicated in a phone interview, that Fox kept her under a Key Person Clause within her contract. This meant she could only leave once Ailes left. He also said, when asked about the clause, that there was more to their case, hinting at future litigation.
Brit Hume took over Van Susteren’s 7:00 p.m. timeslot. In response to this, Hume stated that she was happy to take up this position.
Carlson said Ailes once told her: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” Tantaros also related that Ailes told her to turn around so that he could have a look.
Many harassment cases never go to court, due to lack of evidence. That is because most of these cases are based on the words of the plaintiff and defendant. This is where Carlson did not fail.
Carlson recorded her meetings with Ailes for a year-and-a-half. This produced irrefutable evidence for her. She signed a non-disclosure agreement along with the settlement. Therefore, she cannot speak on it.
She said that she was prepared to take the next step in her life. Also, she hoped to help more women stand up for themselves in the workplace. Carlson then thanked the other women who released their stories and those who had supported her.
Even though Fox News relieved Ailes from paying any portion of the settlement, Carlson has gained something. As she said, she hoped that she will aid more women who deal with harassment around the country.
By Osveen Funwi
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The New York Times: Sexual Harassment Training With Roger Ailes
The New York Times: Fox settles with Gretchen Carlson Over Roger Ailes Sex Harassment Claims
NPR: NPR’s Nina Totenberg Recalls Breaking Anita Hill’s Story in 1991
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