In the latest news to afflict the news network, FOX news has come under fire after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against the CEO of FOX, Roger Ailes. The news comes as Gretchen Carlson, a former news host, officially filed the lawsuit in court.
The news is startling because it came seemingly out of nowhere. Some of the allegations made against the news executive have been negative, but for many people they see it as just another case in a long line of different cases involving men in positions of power.
Gretchen Carlson Fired
50-year-old Gretchen Carlson, a former beauty queen, was fired from the network allegedly after refusing to sleep with Roger. Carlson alleges that this happened after she made frequent complaints regarding the toxic work atmosphere that came as a result of her rejecting him.
She said that this was the ultimate retaliation for refusing to sleep with the 76-year-old chairman. However, details are sketchy at this stage as FOX have yet to issue any form of contradictory evidence. So far, they have only made a statement saying the claims were entirely false.
Discrimination in the Workplace
Carlson says that she was being discriminated against at work because she refused to give in. The controversy came when she was moved from her former primetime slot, early in the morning, to the midday slot. Naturally, this was seen as a demotion and an example of the network chief retaliating against her resistance.
According to the sexual harassment complaint, Ailes said, “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.”
During the meeting, Carlson refused her advance and nine months later the former FOX news host was fired. The lawsuit states that this is a direct example of discrimination in the workplace.
What Could this Mean for FOX?
FOX is a network that is no stranger to controversy both on and off air. This is one lawsuit that is unlikely to be resolved quickly. The network has already pledged, in a lengthy statement, to fight the allegations, which they say are defamatory against the network and the chief executive.
This appears to put to an end the idea that there will be some sort of out of court settlement. Due to the complexity of the case at hand, and both sides looking to fight this out, it could very well take years before a conclusion is reached. It’s unknown what this could mean for the chief executive, if anything.
A Growing Problem in the US
Gender inequality has been a constant problem in the US, with 33% of women experiencing harassment in their lifetime. Time and time again there have been indications that men in positions of power are abusing their positions when it comes to female employees. Few of these cases were actually proven due to the lack of concrete evidence.
Women find time and time again that they are unable to fight back against these allegations, especially due to the high cost of legal representation and worries over their future careers.
What Can Businesses Do?
Businesses should take note of the fact that women are no longer accepting the fact that they are going to be harassed in the workplace. To make their workplaces as accommodating as possible, gender experts recommend implementing diversity policies and to stamp down on any examples of workplace discrimination, especially towards women.
In the meantime, FOX are unlikely to mention the continuing legal proceedings against their chief executive for fear of prejudicing the case. The network, since they are denying any wrongdoing, is unlikely to make any changes in the short-term. Should these allegations prove to be true, the network executive may very well have to resign.
However, Carlson is still unlikely to get her job back. She would be entitled to a large settlement, which the lawsuit made no indication towards.
Other Women Come Forward
In the aftermath of the lawsuit, Ailes became targets of further lawsuits as three ex-employees came forward with a range of allegations, ranging from verbal to physical harassment in one-on-one meetings. With the calls growing to bring Ailes to justice, only the courts can decide whether there’s any merit to these allegations.
Again, it will likely take years for anything to come of these cases. From now, Ailes has 35 days to respond to the case, and then the investigations will open formally. Experts say the case is likely to last for at least two years.