Fox News To Pay $1 Million Settlement After Sexual Harassment Investigation

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Fox News content will be available on a new streaming service that will reach 20 countries by the end of the year, according to the media group formed by mogul Rupert Murdoch
Fox News content will be available on a new streaming service that will reach 20 countries by the end of the year, according to the media group formed by mogul Rupert Murdoch GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / ALEX WONG

Fox News agreed on Tuesday to pay a record $1 million to settle civil penalties by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for "a series of high-profile reports alleging a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retaliation at the network."

A three-year investigation revealed that Fox News repeatedly violated New York City Human Rights Law involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and other misconduct.

Some highly recognizable T.V personalities were involved including former chief Roger Ailes and former anchors Bill O'Reilly and Ed Henry.

Fox News claims it rid the workplace of its toxic environment after "Fox and Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes in 2016, but there have been recent reports of workplace complaints.

In July 2020, two women filed lawsuits in federal court accusing male Fox News hosts of rape and sexual harassment. Henry was fired amid the rape allegations. Reporter Cathy Areu accused on-air personalities Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

The commission had based the penalty on a maximum fine of $250,000 for every four violations alluded in the settlement agreement “a figure reserved for willful and wanton violations of the law.” 

Fox News must remove mandatory confidential arbitration clauses from contracts of on-air talent and all other employees for four years and “the Commission will monitor the network on a quarterly basis for a period of 2 years to ensure compliance.”

Labor attorney Nancy Erika Smith, who represented Gretchen Carlson, called the settlement agreement "monumental." 

“I’m not aware of any government agency requiring an employer to stop silencing victims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and that’s what NDAs and arbitration do—they silence victims,” Smith told The Daily Beast. 

Many women were dismissed in court due to the arbitration but now they can publicly accuse Fox News or its employees of violating New York City human rights law.  

"The settlement aims to create long-term change with respect to how Fox News addresses allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation," the commission said in a statement.

The commission considers arbitration clauses a "widely criticized practice that is often the most significant barrier to determining whether a workplace has a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and prevents victims from seeking relief."

Fox News will be evaluated for four years.

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