1:26pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Fox News Wants "Opportunist" Andrea Tantaros' Lawsuit in Arbitration
Less than a week after Andrea Tantaros filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against Fox News, ex-chief Roger Ailes and some of its other executives, the cable news network has responded with a scathing motion aimed at sending the dispute to arbitration.
Tantaros, who once was on afternoon show The Five, claims in her lawsuit that Fox News "operated like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny" and seeks to hold Ailes responsible for sexual harassment and others for retaliation.
In court papers filed Monday, Fox responds that "Tantaros is not a victim; she is an opportunist," further slamming the complaint she filed in New York Supreme Court as bearing "all the hallmarks of the 'wannabe.'"
The defendant recounts some of the events that led up to her lawsuit, particularly how she allegedly breached her employment agreement by writing a book that Fox asserts wasn't properly authorized. That led to an arbitration demand from Fox and a suspension. Then, as Gretchen Carlson ignited a firestorm with her own allegations leveled at Ailes, Tantaros came forward with her own claims of having been subject to the misbehavior of Ailes. She asserts that Ailes' top lieutenants condoned what happened and participated in smearing her reputation in the media.
The two sides fight over framing.
"Tantaros suggests that her suspension for ignoring her employment obligations in connection with publishing a book was a pretext in retaliation for her complaints of supposed sexual harassment," states Fox's motion. "The opposite is true: Tantaros’s allegations about sexual harassment are a smokescreen to obscure her violation of her employment contract."
Although the purpose of the motion is ostensibly to convince a judge that the parties have agreed to privately arbitrate any dispute, Fox can't help but respond to some of the allegations in Tantaros' lawsuit.
For example, Tantaros suggests that the outside lawyers at Paul Weiss retained by Fox who are in the midst of a sweeping investigation aren't very much interested in doing a thorough job. In Monday's papers, Fox says that those Paul Weiss attorneys called Tantaros' former lawyer and never heard heard back. "It does not appear that Tantaros had any interest in answering the questions that she had left unanswered during her interview," states Fox' papers.
Fox points to Tantaros' employment agreement as being plain and unambiguous in its language that “any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement or your employment” shall be settled by AAA arbitration.
The network and other co-defendants are being represented by David Garland and other attorneys at Epstein Becker & Green. Here's the full motion: