Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson just announced on Twitter that she's no longer with the network. And she's claiming she was fired because she refused to sleep with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and objected to his "sexual come-ons." Update: Ailes says her allegations are "false" and says the lawsuit is retaliation "for the network’s decision not to renew her contract" [full statement below].
According to Carlson's lawyers at NJ firm Smith Mullin P.C., Carlson's contract was terminated last month. Politico reports:
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."
“[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’s actions. Ailes, the complaint alleges, 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.”
Carlson is a former Miss America.
The lawsuit claims that Doocy's actions included "mocking her during commercials breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on the air" and "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." When Carlson complained, Ailes allegedly called her a "man hater" and "killer" and told her she need to "get along with the boys."
Carlson said in a statement, "I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career. 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."
Her lawyer, Nancy Smith, also said, "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."
The lawsuit accuses Ailes of violating the New York City Human Rights Law.
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) July 6, 2016
Another attorney, Martin Hyman of Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP who is also representing Carlson, said, "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."
Before the lawsuit was announced, Carlson would sometimes Tweet affirmations (the hashtag #gettingreal references her memoir, Getting Real):
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) June 23, 2016
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) June 26, 2016
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) July 1, 2016
We've contacted Fox News for comment and will update if they reply [see statement below]. Ailes is the founding CEO of Fox News, but earlier this year New York magazine reported that Rupert Murdoch was asserting his control over the news division and making Ailes less visible; Murdoch called that insinuation "bullshit."
Update: In a statement provided this evening, Ailes said, "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."
Here's the complaint: