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.
The New York Times reported in April 2017 that Fox News had paid about $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against one of its top-rated male hosts, who was forced out soon afterwards. The network suspended another male host in August over allegations that he sent “lewd photographs” to several female co-workers. A third host had been suspended in June, after a frequent guest on his program accused him of rape. The network announced in September that he would return to his show on Fox Business Network, shortly after his accuser filed a lawsuit.
Notable lawsuits filed in connection with these allegations include:
– Carlson v. Ailes, filed in the Superior Court of Bergen County, New Jersey in July 2016, and removed to federal court: A female host alleged sexual harassment against the CEO of the company. The parties settled for about $20 million.
– Tantaros v. Fox News Network, LLC, et al., filed in the Supreme Court of New York County, New York in August 2016: Another female host alleged sexual harassment by the CEO. A judge ordered the case into arbitration in February 2017. The plaintiff sued the network again in federal court in April 2017 for alleged wiretapping violations.
– Hughes v. Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., et al., filed in the Southern District of New York in September 2017: The woman who accused the Fox Business host of rape alleged that the network “blacklisted” her after she came forward.
The sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates advocate for the rights of New York City workers in claims for sexual harassment and other unlawful workplace practices. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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