Longtime Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has slapped her former boss Roger Ailes with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The suit, which was filed in New Jersey State Court on Tuesday, alleges that the Fox News chairman and chief executive officer created a “discriminatory, hostile and harassing work environment,” which included “demands for sexual favors.”
Fox did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Carlson, who served as the host of “The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson,” as well as a cohost on “Fox & Friends” at one point, claims in the suit that she rebuffed Ailes’ advances, which, she alleged, caused her termination from the network on June 23.
Carlson said via the court papers that nine months ago she approached Ailes to talk about the “discrimination” she endured while at the company. “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….Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, Ailes allegedly said during the meeting.
Prior to that meeting, Carlson said her boss routinely commented on her appearance and his desire to sleep with her.
Carlson began her Fox News career in 2005 after working for five years as a news correspondent and cohost of CBS News’ “The Saturday Early Show.” A former Miss America, Carlson claims in the lawsuit that Ailes had commented on her looks and her legs. The reporter cited a complaint that she made against “Fox & Friends” cohost Steve Doocy, who “regularly” treated her in a “sexist and condescending way, including putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast.”
Instead of siding with her, Ailes fired Carlson from that program, the lawsuit said, and reassigned her to the 2 to 3 p.m. EST slot and “substantially” reduced her compensation as a result, even though her workload increased as the solo host of a daytime show. The complaint cites Nielsen ratings in the final quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016 which show steady gains. Last month, Carlson’s show pulled a 33 percent increase in total views to date, the suit said, which “shows that there was no legitimate business reason for” her termination.
Attorneys for Carlson are asking for compensatory damages, including lost compensation, damage to career path, damage to reputation and pain and suffering damages. They also seek damages for mental anguish, reimbursement for negative tax consequences resulting from a jury verdict, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.