Fox News Radio Correspondent Sues for Retaliation

Fox News Headlines Broadcast Room - H 2015
Courtesy of Fox News

Fox News Headlines Broadcast Room - H 2015

A Jerusalem-based Fox News employee is suing the network for discrimination and retaliation, following up on a statement made to European regulators that more litigation was coming by an attorney who is representing more than a dozen clients against the network.

Jessica Golloher is a Fox News Radio correspondent in the Middle East and North Africa, and says she was notified within 24 hours of requesting via email an opportunity to speak with the network's independent investigator that her contract would not be renewed upon its August expiration.

"While Fox may claim that the decision to terminate Ms. Golloher was made before she sent the email on April 17, 2017, any such defense would be preposterous given that Ms. Golloher had previously complained about discriminatory treatment and she was provided no notice or warning whatsoever regarding any potential termination," writes attorney Douglas Wigdor.

In an email to Paul Weiss attorney Michele Hirshman, Golloher states: “I’m having some issues at FOX. Is it feasible to give you a call this week? I’d really appreciate it.” Hirshman followed up asking for her availability, but no formal report was filed.

Golloher claims she was marginalized because of her gender. She had been based in Moscow in 2013, working as the network's Russia correspondent, but when the Sochi Olympic Games approached they gave the lead reporting gig to a London-based male colleague instead of her. Golloher says she was told to act as Simon Owen's Russian translator and help in in his reporting.

"Aware of Fox’s blatant marginalization of her skills and its decision to promote a man as the voice of Fox during the Olympics, Ms. Golloher complained throughout the Sochi events about her discriminatory treatment and the fact that she was downgraded to 'secretarial' status for Mr. Owen’s purposes," writes Wigdor in the complaint.

The correspondent also claims she was bumped to the late reporting shift and forced to cover "the ridiculous and frivolous 'panty protests'" following a ban on the import of lacy underwear, instead of covering "serious and relevant" news.

In another example, set two years later, Golloher says she complained to her superiors that an anchor-producer colleague was making "relentless edits" to her scripts and treating her like a "vapid, unintelligent female reporter."

Earlier this year, Golloher says she pitched a story that would require her to go to Afghanistan but was rejected because it was "exceedingly unsafe." She claims that shortly thereafter the network sent a male reporter to cover the exact story she had pitched.

Following the explosive New York Times story about female employees being paid millions to keep mum on harassment claims involving Bill O'Reilly, the company sent a memo to employees to encourage them to report incidents via an anonymous hotline. Golloher says she decided to take the opportunity to file a formal complaint about what she had experienced, but was informed her contract would not be renewed shortly after emailing Fox's outside counsel to set up a time to speak.

She says she was informed she was being terminated because of "budgetary concerns." A source close to the matter says the Jerusalem bureau has only a handful of employees and the company decided it was an unnecessary expense to have two television reporters and radio correspondent posted there, and the decision to eliminate the radio position was part of broader budget cuts.

"Since she has been informed of her termination, Ms. Golloher continues to be excluded from work assignments," writes Wigdor. "Moreover, freelance colleagues are being given assignments that are entirely within Ms. Golloher’s area of expertise despite the fact that she is still on Fox’s payroll."

Golloher is suing Fox News, its parent 21st Century Fox, Fox News Radio vp Mitch Davis and director of news programming Hank Weinbloom for gender discrimination and retaliation.

Wigdor foreshadowed the lawsuit in a Wednesday letter to Ofcom, the regulatory agency that is evaluating Fox's bid to buy out European pay-TV giant Sky.

Fox previously denied Golloher's claims, and sent The Hollywood Reporter a new statement now that the suit has been filed: "Jessica Golloher’s claims are without merit. Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless. We will vigorously defend the matter."