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Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox is asking the court to toss a lawsuit from a former executive who says he was fired and publicly humiliated so the company could show it vigilantly handles sexual harassment complaints to save a multi-billion-dollar business deal in the U.K.
“Beginning in July 2017, multiple sexual harassment lawsuits were brought against non-party Fox News Network,” writes 21st Century Fox attorney Linda Goldstein in a motion to dismiss filed Friday. “[T]hese lawsuits resulted in the forced departures of high-profile executives and talent and well-publicized accounts of high-dollar settlements for the women who alleged they had been harassed. But, as happens all too often, Defendants’ salutary efforts to redress fundamental problems in the Fox News workplace has also attracted a number of opportunists.”
The company claims former vp of Fox News Latino Francisco Cortes is one of them.
Former Fox News contributor Tamara Holder alleged that he sexually assaulted her in his office, and he was terminated after the company investigated those allegations.
Cortes sued in July, claiming he was used as a “scapegoat” so the company could demonstrate it aggressively handles harassment complaints to eliminate concerns about 21st Century Fox’s $15.2 billion acquisition of Sky in the U.K. He says his career and reputation have been irreparably damaged.
Fox argues that Cortes’ claims arise from the publication of a New York Times article, which was based on information Holder gave the outlet before she reported the harassment to Fox News.
“Rather than sue The New York Times for printing this account or Holder for providing it — which would put the truth of her allegations at issue — Plaintiff instead devotes 160 paragraphs to weaving bogus claims against the Defendants without asserting any claim against the woman who publicly accused him of sexual assault,” writes Goldstein.
The company and Holder provided a joint statement to the paper, but Goldstein argues it is neither disparaging nor defamatory, and notes that Cortes acknowledges it was Holder who gave his name to NYT. She also argues that deficiencies in all seven causes of action pleaded can’t be cured by “larding his claims with irrational conspiracy theories.”
Read the full filing here.
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