Gretchen Carlson says she was fired from Fox News Channel after 11 years for turning down CEO Roger Ailes’ sexual advances.
“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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 a court filing with the Superior Court of New Jersey obtained by Business Insider, the former “Fox and Friends” cohost and “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” host claims her firing was a result of retaliation for refusing to have sex with the CEO and for reporting disparaging treatment in the newsroom.
The complaint alleges that Carlson was fired on June 23 when her contract expired without warning, despite the ratings success of “The Real Story” in its time slot.
The court document also states that the behaviour by Ailes toward Carlson included lewd innuendo, ogling, and remarks about Carlson’s body, as well as demands for sex as a way for her to improve her job standing.
“We believe that Mr. Ailes’ behaviour 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 Carlson’s attorney Martin Hyman of Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP.
The complaint also states that she was fired from “Fox and Friends” in 2013 after complaining of sexist behaviour by her cohost Steve Doocy and that her move to the 2 p.m. time slot with “The Real Story” was intended to give her a lower profile on the channel.
“We believe that the evidence will confirm that Gretchen was fired from ‘Fox and Friends’ for speaking up about demeaning and discriminatory behaviour on and off the set,” Carlson’s attorney Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin PC in Montclair, New Jersey, said in a statement.
Ailes called Carlson’s lawsuit “without merit” and “defamatory” in a statement to Business Insider on Wednesday afternoon:
“Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false. This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract, which was due to the fact that her disappointingly low ratings were dragging down the afternoon lineup. When Fox News did not commence any negotiations to renew her contract, Ms. Carlson became aware that her career with the network was likely over and conveniently began to pursue a lawsuit. Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book. This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”
Carlson joined Fox News in 2005. Previously, she was a news correspondent at CBS News and went on to host the Saturday edition of its “Early Show.” In 1989, she was crowned Miss America.
This article has been updated based on information provided after the original publication.
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