Gretchen Carlson, an 11-year veteran at Fox News Channel, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against former boss Roger Ailes, the network’s CEO and chairman, alleging that he “sabotaged” her career because she had “refused his sexual advances.”
In court documents filed in Bergen County’s Superior Court in New Jersey today, just days after her contract was not renewed, Carlson alleged that her June 23 termination was in retaliation for her rebuffs as well as her complaints about sexual harassment.
Carlson had been the host of Fox News Channel’s “The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson.”
In the lawsuit, Carlson — an author, mother and wife — said that Ailes had repeatedly “injected sexual and/or sexist comments” into their conversations, calling her “sexy” and remarking on her legs. She also alleged that he’d ogled her in his office and had commented on how specific outfits had “enhanced” her figure.
According to Carlson, Ailes retaliated against her rebuffs by giving her fewer “hard-hitting” interviews and “directing that she not be showcased at all.” She alleged that he also reduced her compensation “to a level that was greatly disproportionate to that of similarly-situated male employees.”
She also said that when she complained about how she was being treated, Ailes had told her: “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.”
“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.”
In her lawsuit, Carlson said that in September 2009, she had also told a supervisor that former “Fox & Friends” cohost Steve Doocy had created a “hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way.”
She said that he had “engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” including mocking and shunning her as well as “refusing to engage with her on air.”
Carlson said that when Ailes learned of her complaints about Doocy, he called her a “man hater” and “killer” who needed to learn how to “get along with the boys.”
In a statement, 20th Century Fox said, “The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter.”
Doocy would not comment on the lawsuit.
Carlson, who is seeking unspecified damages, said in a statement that she’d decided to sue to “stand up for herself and speak out for all women.”
“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said. “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.”