A major cable news network based in New York City has faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment by both behind-the-scenes staffers and on-screen personalities, beginning in mid-2016. The lawsuits and other allegations have led to millions of dollars in settlements and the ouster of the chief executive officer and at least two hosts. The multitude of allegations covers a wide range of alleged actions that could lead to a New York sexual harassment claim.
Laws like the New York City Law Against Discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and other factors. Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, which can range from inappropriate sexual comments to outright sexual assault. A single act can support a claim of sexual harassment if it is severe enough. Acts that might seem minor when viewed in isolation can support a claim if they form a pattern of similar behavior. A company can be directly liable for sexual harassment by a manager, supervisor, or other person in a position of authority over a claimant. If a co-worker or other person in the workplace is the alleged perpetrator, the employer may be liable if it was made aware of the harassment but failed to act.
The sexual harassment allegations center on Fox News and its former CEO, the late Roger Ailes. In the summer of 2016, numerous women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes and others. One former employee described the harassment as “psychological torture” but stated that she endured it because she believed it was necessary to continue in her career. After a prominent female host filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes in July 2016, at least six more women soon came forward with allegations against him. Ailes resigned as CEO of the network later that month. He died in May 2017.