Fox News agreed on Tuesday to pay a record $1 million to settle the New York City Human Rights Commission’s civil penalties for “a series of high-profile reports accusing the Internet of a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation.”
A three-year investigation revealed that Fox News has repeatedly violated the New York City Human Rights Law, involving sexual harassment, discrimination and other misconduct.
Some well-known TV personalities also participated, including former chief Roger Ayres and former anchors Bill O’Reilly and Ed Henry.
Fox News claims that after “Fox and Friends” co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ayers in 2016, it got rid of the toxic workplace environment, but there have been recent reports of workplace complaints.
In July 2020, two women filed a lawsuit in federal court, accusing the male host of Fox News of rape and sexual harassment. Henry was fired on rape charges. Reporter Cathy Areu accused the live broadcasters Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz of sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
The commission has imposed fines of up to $250,000 for every four violations mentioned in the settlement agreement, “this figure is reserved for deliberate and wanton violations of the law.”
Fox News must remove the mandatory confidential arbitration clause from the four-year contract for live broadcast talent and all other employees. “The committee will monitor the network quarterly for two years to ensure compliance.”
Nancy Erika Smith, a labor lawyer representing Gretchen Carlson, called the settlement agreement “commemorative.”
“I don’t know of any government agency that requires employers to stop silence victims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. This is what confidentiality agreements and arbitration do-they silence victims,” Smith told the Daily Beast.
Many women were fired in court due to arbitration, but now they can publicly accuse Fox News or its employees of violating New York City’s human rights laws.
The committee said in a statement: “The settlement aims to make long-term changes to how Fox News handles allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation.”
The commission considers the arbitration clause to be “a widely criticized practice, and is usually the biggest obstacle to determining whether a culture of sexual harassment prevails in the workplace and preventing victims from seeking relief.”
Fox News will conduct a four-year evaluation.
Fox News has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million to resolve violations of New York City’s human rights laws. The complaint stems from a series of cases involving former principal Roger Ailes & host Bill O’Reilly. #me toohttps://t.co/Rs4T4jk5FT
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) June 29, 2021