Gretchen Carlson Lawsuit Against Roger Ailes Ends in Settlement

In a statement, 21st Century Fox apologizes to the former Fox News host after she sued for retaliation from alleged sexual harassment.
Courtesy of YouTube/Bloomberg Politics
Gretchen Carlson

On Tuesday, Gretchen Carlson filed paperwork to dismiss her lawsuit against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

The former Fox News host, who brought a firestorm of attention upon Ailes with allegations of sexual harassment, will be walking away with $20 million, according to a source. Vanity Fair first reported it. A source tells The Hollywood Reporter that Ailes will be picking up part of the cost of settlement.

"21st Century Fox is pleased to announce that it has settled Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit," reported the company in a statement. "During her tenure at Fox News, Gretchen exhibited the highest standards of journalism and professionalism. She developed a loyal audience and was a daily source of information for many Americans. We are proud that she was part of the Fox News team. We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

In a complaint first filed July 6 in New Jersey state court, Carlson claimed she was let go from Fox News as retaliation for rebuffing Roger Ailes' sexual advances. She said that she had met with Ailes to discuss treatment and was told, "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.'"

According to a cover story in New York magazine this week, Carlson secretly taped some of her conversations with Ailes.

Ailes' attorneys deny that sexual harassment happened, but after Carlson filed a lawsuit, 21st Century Fox hired the outside firm of Paul, Weiss to conduct an investigation and reportedly turned up others, including Fox News star Megyn Kelly, who said that sexual harassment occurred in the workplace. As a result, Ailes was let go, though he did get tens of millions of dollars in severance.

"I am gratified that 21st Century Fox took decisive action after I filed my complaint," said Carlson. "I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life in which I will redouble my efforts to empower women in the workplace. I want to thank all the brave women who came forward to tell their own stories and the many people across the country who embraced and supported me in their #StandWithGretchen. All women deserve a dignified and respectful workplace in which talent, hard work and loyalty are recognized, revered and rewarded.”

The Carlson lawsuit didn't last long, and before it was settled, the parties fought over whether it belonged in open court or in arbitration. Fox News wasn't a co-defendant, but Ailes insisted that an arbitration provision in her employment agreement covered this dispute anyway. Meanwhile, Fox agreed to indemnify Ailes by picking up legal costs.

Although this case is now over, the scandal haunting Fox over Ailes is hardly going away anytime soon. Another Fox News host, Andrea Tantaros, has brought her own lawsuit, alleging in her complaint that Fox News "operated like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny."

In court papers aimed at moving the Tantaros suit to arbitration, Fox called her an "opportunist" who was using allegations of sexual harassment to allegedly cover up her contract breach.

Meanwhile, Ailes is reportedly set to fight back, hiring attorney Charles Harder (best known for representing Hulk Hogan against Gawker) to possibly pursue a defamation lawsuit against New York magazine over its coverage.

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