Fox News Sued by Host Britt McHenry Over Sexual Harassment Claim

Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Britt McHenry

McHenry, who hosts a show on the Fox Nation streaming service, is charging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Britt McHenry, a Fox News contributor and Fox Nation host, on Tuesday filed suit against the network, its parent company and several employees.

In a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York by attorney Lisa Bloom, McHenry says that the network did not respond appropriately and sought to punish her after she accused an on-air colleague, the Fox Nation host Tyrus, of sexually harassing her. McHenry is demanding a jury trial.

The lawsuit also names Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Corp, News Corp, Tyrus (George Murdoch), Fox Nation boss John Finley, Fox Nation executive producer Jennifer Rauchet and a human resources executive, Monica Mekeel.

McHenry, who still hosts the show UN-PC on Fox Nation, previously filed a complaint with New York State's Division of Human Rights earlier this fall. (Tyrus began hosting his own Fox Nation series, 'Nuff Said, after he left the show he co-hosted with McHenry.)

McHenry says that Fox News responded to her complaints against Tyrus by "refusing to investigate some of her claims, shunning her, shutting her out of company events, and refusing to allow her on Fox News Channel shows. ... When Ms. McHenry complained to Fox News Human Resources and management, Fox News asked what Ms. McHenry did to provoke her harasser."

On Tuesday evening, Fox News released the following statement: “Ms. McHenry’s lawsuit recycles the same allegations she filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights in October, to which we filed a response on Friday. As we have previously stated, Ms. McHenry’s allegations have been fully investigated and we are confident our actions will be deemed entirely appropriate in litigation. We expect all of her claims to be dismissed.”

Previously, Fox News has said that it conducted two outside investigations into the claims made by McHenry and considered the matter resolved — with Tyrus remaining an employee. McHenry has said that Tyrus persistently sent her sexually explicit text messages and made inappropriate remarks.

"As a result of her treatment by Defendants, Ms. McHenry has suffered humiliation, emotional anguish, derailment of her career, and significant loss of economic opportunities," the lawsuit argues. "Since her sexual harassment complaint, Ms. McHenry has been effectively frozen out by Fox News management. In the past, Fox News managers and executives would check in with Ms. McHenry or stop in to watch her show, but she has not heard from any of them since making her sexual harassment complaint."

McHenry claims that Tyrus became cold and hostile toward her when he learned that she had a boyfriend. When McHenry took her complaints about Tyrus to Rauchet for the third time, the producer allegedly told her that she was "replaceable" and that "Fox News had never wanted her." The suit adds, "When Ms. McHenry tried to continue the conversation, Ms. Rauchet physically walked out on her."

In the complaint, the plaintiffs recount how the network responded to complaints made against former primetime host Bill O'Reilly, tick through allegations made against former boss Roger Ailes and argue that "since its inception and continuing to today, Fox News has had a sexual harassment problem."

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who famously sued Ailes for sexual harassment in July 2016, leaving the network with a $20 million settlement, promoted McHenry's lawsuit on Twitter. "Fox News wants people to believe it has cleaned up its act and is now at the forefront of anti-harassment compliance, but the allegations made by @BrittMcHenry via @dianafalzone & @VanityFair tells quite a different story," she wrote Tuesday afternoon. "If @foxnews has really turned the corner, this kind of alleged outrageous behavior wouldn’t still be happening. Fox should also release all women from NDAs they were forced to sign to receive settlements. Only then will there be full transparency and truth."

In a tweet about her lawsuit, McHenry wrote Tuesday evening, "I am standing up for myself, for women and for what’s right. I have maintained the same allegations because the truth doesn’t change. I feel for any sexual harassment victim who has their story and evidence dismissed, doubted and not believed."