Fox News is facing another multi-million dollar lawsuit a month and a half after former longtime news anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a claim against Roger Ailes saying she was fired after refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.
Amidst the heavily publicized ongoing litigation process a number of women came forward saying Ailes subjected them to sexual harassment. The barrage of accusations ultimately resulted in Ailes’ resignation on July 21.
On Monday, August 22, media personality and former Fox host Andrea Tantaros, filed a $50 Million dollar lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court (NYC) against the network and Ailes, citing sexual harassment. Ailes’ replacement Bill Shine, legal affairs VP Diane Brandi, corporate communications VP Irena Briganti, and executive programming and developing VP Suzanne Scott, are all cited as defendants in the litigation alongside the former Fox CEO.
According to the lawsuit first obtained by New York Times, Tantaros’ suit states Fox “Masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes it operates like a Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” The suit is the latest rebuttal in the back-and-forth between Fox and Tantaros, which first ensued last winter after Fox accused Tantaros of breaching her contract by releasing a book without the network’s permission.
Tantaros suit further states “However, this complaint is not just about Ailes, for Ailes did not act alone. He may have been the primary culprit but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants, who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation, and retaliation.” According to Tantaros, Ailes first subjected her to sexual harassment in the summer of 2014 after she signed a contract to co-host afternoon show, The Five.
Court documents say Ailes instructed Tantaros to wear clothing which revealed her legs, told her to strip down before wardrobe personnel and ordered her to turn around so he could have a good look at her. Tantaros says Bill O’Reilly also subjected her to sexual harassment, though he is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Okay, I wasn’t present at Fox News at the time all of this occurred but these citations are enough to make me regurgitate on my computer screen. Sounds like Fox is running its own version of the playboy mansion with elements of the jiggly room—just think Al Bundy—where female employees are seen as sex objects and contracts are like dollar bills attached to a string by power driven execs.
It’s unfair enough that professional women like Carlson and Tantaros, who work at such upstanding establishments have to put up with receiving less pay for doing the same job as their male counterparts. However, it’s absolutely disgusting to know other women would stand by and watch this happen without uttering a single objection–an occurrence all too common in the workplace.
I remember finding myself in a similar scenario when I worked at the Pathmark on Cropsey Avenue before Pathmark stores were replaced by Shop & Stop. Like most new hires I started off on the register. My front-end manager *Washington Bloomsdale, paired me with *Eduardo, a jovial guy who made my first day on the job a breeze. He was charismatic, and answered all of my questions with ease. I saw other trainers calling front-end managers for assistance but not Eduardo, he had everything under control. His great work ethic matched by his unwavering confidence enticed me to ask him “Are you a team leader even?”
“Nope, just a humble cashier, ” he responded with a rueful grin. Eduardo and I developed a very good working relationship. He was really funny and made the entire crew laugh during each shift, which made the time go faster. Forward three months later, I started working in customer service and found out I had just passed the front-end managerial test. Around this time Eduardo had started working in dairy.
Occasionally, during the night shift, crew members would conduct inventory throughout the store. One night, Bloomsdale sent me to the dairy aisle to do some inventory. Eduardo was working in dairy on the same shift. Oh yeah, I left out that two weeks prior he asked me out on a date and I turned him down. He became withdrawn and less jovial towards me since then but he’d still greet me whenever he saw me. “What’s up,” he said “Hey,” I responded as I made my way down the dairy aisle. Eduardo went on to congratulate me on passing the managerial test and I thanked him. I thought to myself “I guess we’re still cool after all.” That’s what I thought, until he looked at me and asked “Do you like to wear thongs?”
I know, I was just as baffled as you are. I said “listen I’d appreciate if you don’t ask me such inappropriate questions.” But he just continued “You know, you’re really ungrateful. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have gotten past your first day on register and you wouldn’t have made it this far.”
“Okay, this mother—— is out of his f—— mind,” I thought. I immediately left the dairy aisle and asked Bloomsdale if he could place me in produce instead because I was freezing and forgot to bring my jacket. Okay, I lied but Eduardo was more popular than I was and though he was way out of line I thought if I just kept my distance he’d stop. Boy was I wrong, after that night, anytime he saw me he’d make derogatory comments towards me in front of everyone. Finally, I had enough and complained to the dairy manager *Rick who seemed appalled. He told me he would have a talk with him.
Eduardo denied my allegations. To make things worse I had both male and female coworkers come up to me and and ask “Why’d you do that for?” or “He was just trying to talk to you plus you know how he plays around.” After that he was transferred to the Pathmark located in Atlantic terminal and I never saw or heard from him again. However, I still had to deal with incoming flak from coworkers, especially female coworkers. For a moment I felt like I had done something wrong but after a while I realized I didn’t. I had every right to speak up for myself just like Tantaros, Carlson, and the other women at Fox did.
According to sexual harassment advocacy organization Aware.org, 79% of workplace sexual harassment respondents are women. Sexual harassment can range from unwanted physical contact to verbal abuse. Verbal sexual harassment including inappropriate comments and lewd emails/texts often go ignored because verbal abuse is not recognized as a crime. But, whether physical or verbal, sexual harassment in the workplace can take a toll on an individual’s piece of mind. Staying quiet about it is not the right thing to do. If you’ve witnessed a coworker being sexually harassed or if you are experiencing sexual harassment don’t remain silent, say something. Sexual harassment is unacceptable.
*names have been changed to avoid legal conflict.