Fox News chairmans lawyers say sexual harassment case should be sent to arbitration first
Lawyers for Fox News chairman Roger Ailes on Friday asked a judge to halt anchor Gretchen Carlsons shameless publicity campaign against her former boss, and send her sexual harassment lawsuit against him to arbitration in accordance with her employment contract.
The request came two days after Carlson sued Ailes in the superior court in New Jersey, portraying him as a persistent harasser who demoted her and ultimately forced her from Fox News, her employer since 2005, after she rebuffed his advances. Ailes has denied Carlsons allegations.
Roger Ailes is trying to force this case into a secret arbitration proceeding, the lawyers said in a statement. Gretchen never agreed to arbitrate anything with Mr Ailes.
The parent of Fox News, 21st Century Fox Inc, late on Wednesday said it had full confidence in Ailes and began an internal review of the matter.
In filings with the federal court in Newark, New Jersey, Ailes lawyers said Carlsons June 2013 contract required her to arbitrate any employment disputes.
They accused Carlson of gamesmanship for suing only Ailes and not the network as well, calling it a legally improper means to avoid arbitration, and of conducting a public tar and feather campaign to sully Ailes reputation.
The lawyers also said that under federal law the case did not belong in the New Jersey state court because Carlson lived in Connecticut and Ailes in New York, and the amount of money at stake was too high.
[The] plaintiffs ploy of filing in superior court to justify her shameless publicity campaign against Roger Ailes should not be countenanced, the lawyers said.
Fridays filings included a copy of what Ailes lawyers said was Carlsons employment contract, which calls for employment disputes to be heard by a three-person arbitration panel.
Ailes, 76, a former Republican political consultant and confidant of 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, has built Fox News over two decades into the most-watched US cable news channel and become one of the most powerful American media executives.
In her lawsuit, Carlson, 50, accused Ailes of sexually inappropriate conduct such as calling her a man hater, ogling her in his office and telling her she was sexy but too much hard work.
Carlson said Ailes removed her in 2013 as co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends in retaliation for her refusal to accept his advances and reassigned her at lower pay to an afternoon show. She also said his decision on 23 June not to renew her contract was retaliatory.