Gretchen Carlson took on Fox News in a $US20 million sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the ousting of the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes this summer.
Speaking on a panel at the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Thursday, the former TV anchor shared her advice on dealing with sexual harassment at work.
She recommended trying to maintain records on as much of the abuse as possible, whether it’s journaling, telling someone, or recording interactions with the perpetrator.
“Gathering evidence is just crucial if you find yourself in this type of a situation,” she said, “because we still live in a he-said, she-said culture, unfortunately, and they’re not going to believe you.”
Carlson said checking the recording laws for each state is crucial, though, because in some — including California — it’s a felony to record someone without their permission.
She recorded her interactions with Ailes, and ultimately used them to prove her case in the lawsuit, which she settled with Fox News in September. Her story encouraged a dozen other women to come forward and allege that they had been sexually harassed by Ailes, too, including the network’s former star anchor Megyn Kelly.
Carlson said speaking out about harassment will help prevent it from happening, too. But many employers include secret arbitration clauses in their contracts, she said, which waive employees’ rights to a trial if sexual harassment escalates to a lawsuit. These clauses often keep women from talking about their experiences.
“That is by far the biggest problem,” she said. “We’re fooling our culture into thinking that we’ve come so far. Why? Because we’re not hearing about it!”
Carlson’s coming out with a book to walk women through the process of combatting workplace sexual harassment that will share women’s testimonials. She said she also wants Congress to pass laws to address harassment, like making it easier to report or prosecute cases, emphasising that this is an issue anyone can get behind.
“When somebody is going to sexually harass you, they don’t ask you beforehand, ‘Are you a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?’ No, they just harass you,” she said. “This should not be a political issue. This should be something that every single person cares about — I don’t care what political party you’re in.”
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