In an incredible development coming out of the Fox News empire, longtime host Gretchen Carlson has announced that she is filing a lawsuit against her former boss, Roger Ailes, for wrongful termination and sexual harassment.
The news hit after an email was sent to reporters on Wednesday afternoon by Carlson’s lawyers. She was the host of The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson and former co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends.
According to the email, her contract was terminated on June 23. Fox News did not publicly announce the contract termination, and Carlson said on her Twitter account at the time that she was “on vacation.”
“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement. “Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments at Fox News and for keeping our loyal viewers engaged and informed on events and news topics of the day.”
According to POLITICO, the complaint was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey and claims Ailes made “sexually-charged comments” to Carlson, “ranging from lewd innuendo, ogling and remarks about Ms. Carlson’s body to demands for sex as a way for her to improve her job standing.”
Here is Gretchen Carlson’s full sexual harassment complaint against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes: https://t.co/Tdo2ldRnBR
— Gawker (@Gawker) July 6, 2016
“[D]uring a meeting last September in which Ms. Carlson complained about ongoing discriminatory and retaliatory treatment, Mr. Ailes stated, “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” adding that “sometimes problems are easier to solve’ that way,” according to Carlson’s lawyers.
On other occasions, the complaint alleges Ailes asked Carlson to “turn around so he could view her posterior, commented repeatedly about her legs, and instructed her to wear certain outfits that he claimed enhanced her figure.” Ailes also allegedly “directed sexist comments” about Carlson in public and announced to others at a industry event that “he had slept with three former Miss Americas, but not with her.”
The complaint goes on to allege that Carlson was fired from “Fox & Friends” in 2013 because she complained about co-host Steve Doocy, alleging that he “created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way.” Ailes mocked Carlson and told her to stop being offended “so God damned easy.” Though she was moved to host her own show in the afternoon hour, the complaint alleges that the move was a demotion and that Ailes “reduced her compensation and withheld network support and promotion for her show.”
From the lawsuit:
“Doocy engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment of Carlson, including, but not limited to, mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist rather than a blond female prop.
“We believe that the evidence will confirm that Gretchen was fired from ‘Fox & Friends’ for speaking up about demeaning and discriminatory behavior on and off the set,” said Nancy Erika Smith, who is an employment litigator at Smith Mullin P.C., the law firm who is representing Carlson.
By the way, here’s a piece Gretchen Carlson wrote on HuffPost about sexual harassment last year https://t.co/i0nM4YT5W7
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) July 6, 2016
It's worth noting that Gretchen Carlson has a degree from Harvard, she just played a dumb blond because Fox News required it.
— PoliticalGroove (@PoliticalGroove) July 6, 2016
The Fox hit job on Gretchen Carlson is going to be beyond brutal.
— Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) July 6, 2016
“We believe that Mr. Ailes’ behavior toward Gretchen, as described in the complaint, speaks volumes about what she had to endure. The evidence will show that Ailes deliberately sabotaged the career of a talented, hard-working journalist and loyal Fox News employee. Opposing sexism and rejecting unwanted sexual come-ons should never cost a woman her job or subject her to disparagement and emotional anguish,” said Martin Hyman who is also representing Carlson.
CNN’s Tom Kludt released a statement that reads in-part:
“One of the media industry’s most powerful figures fired a longtime on-air personality because she refused to sleep with him and reported disparaging treatment in the newsroom.
Such are the key allegations in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed today by Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.”
In mid-June just after the massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Carlson made news when she broke from the usual conservative media narrative and called on lawmakers to reinstate the ban on assault weapons during a live broadcast.
“There’s no doubt Omar Mateen was able to kill so many people because he was firing an AR-15,” Carlson said. “A military-style assault weapon, a weapon easier to buy in the state of Florida than buying a handgun. Florida sets a three day waiting period for purchasing handguns, but the state mandates no waiting period for any gun that requires two hands to hold.”
Many speculated that her days were numbered after her statements, but no one expected the bombshell that dropped this morning.
This story is still developing. [This post has been updated]