Former Fox News host sues network CEO for sexual harassment
NEW YORK — Gretchen Carlson, a longtime host on Fox News, is accusing the network’s CEO and chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment and retaliation.
A spokeswoman for Ailes did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges that Ailes repeatedly “injected sexual and/or sexist comments” into conversations; made “sexual advances by various means;” and said to her last September, “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.”
The suit says Carlson requested the September meeting because she was seeking to “bring to an end the retaliatory and discriminatory treatment she had endured.”
Instead, the suit alleges, the “retaliation” continued through June, when her contract was not renewed.
The eight-page lawsuit, filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleges that Ailes violated the New York City Human Rights Law.
Carlson’s attorneys told CNNMoney she is only suing Ailes, not the network.
Attorney Nancy Erika Smith, of the firm Smith Mullin, said Ailes’ sexual harassment was “very consistent and very pervasive.”
Asked whether Carlson has any recordings or other evidence, Smith said, “We are very confident in our evidence. We have very powerful evidence. But we don’t want to discuss what the evidence is outside of the courtroom.”
Smith said that the 2014 book about Fox and Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” by Gabriel Sherman, contains other accusations of sexual harassment by Ailes.
“The law is very clear that other victims’ testimony is relevant in a sexual harassment case… We may be asking these other women to testify,” she said.
At the same time the lawsuit was announced on Wednesday, Carlson wrote on Facebook, “As you may have heard, I am no longer with Fox News. I value your support and friendship, especially now, so please stay in touch with me.”
In a statement, she called the lawsuit “a difficult step to take,” but said “I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace.”
Carlson joined Fox News in 2005 after five years at CBS. She hosted the channel’s flagship morning show “Fox & Friends” until 2013, when she was reassigned to the 2 p.m. hour.
Her program “The Real Story” has been hosted by fill-ins in the days since her contract was not renewed.