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Julie Roginsky, a political consultant and cable news commentator, is the latest to hit Fox News with a lawsuit claiming retaliation over treatment in the wake of alleged Roger Ailes sexual harassment.
On Monday, Roginsky filed suit in New York Supreme Court against the cable network owned by 21st Century Fox, its ex-president Ailes and current president Bill Shine. She is represented in part by the same legal team who handled Gretchen Carlson’s much-discussed lawsuit, which prompted other women to come forward to claim being subjected to a hostile workplace at Fox News. The Justice Department is currently investigating Fox in connection to payments to various Ailes accusers.
According to Roginsky’s complaint, her promotion to a regular spot co-hosting the midafternoon show The Five was “contingent upon having a sexual relationship with Ailes,” and when she refused, she didn’t get the position.
Roginsky says she’s appeared on Fox News since 2005 and became a regular in 2011. Her contract was renewed three times, according to the complaint. She began appearing on The Five after the departure of Bob Beckel.
“Ailes repeatedly called Roginsky into his office for one-on-one meetings, telling her that he really liked her on The Five,” states the complaint. “During these meetings, Ailes would frequently steer the conversation to Roginsky’s personal life by asking, among other things, if she was dating anyone, why she was not married, what she was looking for in a man, and remarking that he did not understand why she was still single since she was so attractive.”
The complaint continues, “During these meetings, Ailes additionally (and without irony) volunteered the advice that Roginsky should engage in sexual relationships with ‘older, married, conservative men’ because ‘they may stray but they always come back because they’re loyal.’ Ailes also remarked that he was loyal but that loyalty was a two-way street. These comments and their delivery made it clear that Ailes wanted a sexual relationship with Roginsky.”
Ailes would “consistently position himself in such a way as to look down Roginsky’s dress,” adds the complaint.
Roginsky complains how the slot on The Five eventually went to Geraldo Rivera — “even though that seat on the show had typically been reserved for a liberal like Roginsky” — and although she remained on rotation on Outnumbered, “she was rarely allowed to lead her own segments, unlike the other panelists on the show.”
Roginsky says through her complaint that she couldn’t get another meeting with Ailes after rebuffing him.
During the summer months last year, others at the network put “increasing pressure” on Fox News employees to defend Ailes and attack Carlson, the lawsuit alleges, so much so that Roginsky says she left the Republican National Convention more than a day early. At the Democratic National Convention, Shine allegedly told her that “everything they are saying about Roger is true.”
Roginsky also claims that although her allegations against Ailes were known by the network’s top lawyer, Dianne Brandi, no one advised her to contact those at the Paul Weiss law firm who were investigating Ailes‘ conduct. The investigators didn’t contact her either. She says top brass “took no action to investigate” and “kept Ailes‘ conduct secret and enabled it.”
The lawsuit asserts damage to her career path as well as mental and physical pain. Represented by attorneys at Smith Mullin and Golenbock Eiseman, Roginsky is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Fox News hasn’t responded to a request for comment. Roger Ailes‘ attorney Susan Estrich told NPR’s David Folkenflik that the allegations are “total hogwash” and that the suit is a “copycat complaint,” while adding, “The idea that Mr. Ailes would pressure Ms. Roginsky or any other women to have sexual relations with him is total nonsense.”
Here’s the full complaint:
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