Gretchen Carlson, a Fox News host, said Wednesday she was fired by the conservative-leaning cable news network and has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against its chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
In a statement released through a public relations firm, Carlson, best known for co-hosting “Fox & Friends” until 2013, said she “refused to sleep” with Ailes and “reported disparaging treatment in the newsroom.”
Carlson was terminated on June 23, when her contract expired. Her current program, “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson,” was the leading cable news show in its afternoon time slot, she claimed.
“Ailes has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” the complaint read.
“When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, Ailes stated: ‘I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,’ adding that ‘sometimes problems are easier to solve’ that way.”
Fox News couldn’t be reached for comment. Carlson couldn’t be reached for comment. The clerk’s office of the Superior court of New Jersey in Bergen County confirmed the lawsuit was filed Wednesday.
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) July 6, 2016
Carlson, a former Miss America and a graduate of Stanford University, worked for CBS News as a correspondent before joining Fox in 2005.
According to the complaint, Carlson complained to her supervisor in September, 2009 that Steve Doocy, one of her co-hosts of “Fox & Friends,” had allegedly created “a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live broadcast.”
After learning of Carlson’s complaints, Ailes allegedly responded by calling her a “man-hater” and “killer,” according to the complaint. She claims she was given fewer coveted assignments and interviews and was removed from her once-a-week appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor.” Her removal from “Fox & Friends” in 2013 was also a punitive move by Ailes, she claimed.
Claiming Ailes hurt her career advancement, Carlson is seeking compensatory damages, damages for mental anguish, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and “reimbursement for negative tax consequences resulting from a jury verdict” on this case.
Carlson is represented by Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin, along with Martin Hyman of Golenbock Eiseman.
This isn’t the first time Ailes has been accused of sexual harassment. According to The Loudest Voice in the Room, a biography of Ailes written by New York Magazine National Affairs Editor Gabriel Sherman, Ailes was negotiating a salary with Randi Harrison, a TV producer, in the 1980s when he offered her an additional $100 each week “if you agree to have sex with me whenever I want.”
Fox has said that the charges in Sherman’s book are false.