Roger Ailes will have to face a sexual harassment lawsuit after former FOX news host Gretchen Carlson filed against him. Describing her workplace as a toxic place to work, she filed the lawsuit with the courts following her firing from the news network.
For many observers, the news has come out of nowhere. The allegations against the news executive are unsurprising for many because he has long had a combative attitude, and this is not the first time that such allegations have been made against him, although the majority never went as far as court.
Gretchen Carlson Moved and Loses Her Job
The former beauty queen Carlson, aged 50, says she turned down the advances of the 76-year-old chairman repeatedly in one-on-one meetings. This led to her filing multiple complaints, although none of these ever went anywhere.
In her words, this was the ultimate retaliation for refusing to sleep with Ailes. It should be said that the exact details are sketchy at this stage and all of the information extracted from this case came from the court documents, which are available to the general public.
FOX released a lengthy statement rejecting the allegations and saying that Ailes will fight the case in court to clear his name.
Carlson Says She Was Discriminated Against
Carlson was intense in saying that she was discriminated against because she refused to obey Ailes. She says it all started when she was moved from her position as the host of the morning rush-hour TV news slot. The network placed her in the midday slot, which is well-known as a form of demotion. She believes that this happened all because she resisted Ailes.
The complaint repeated the alleged words of Ailes to Carlson in a one-on-one meeting, “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.”
The whole saga lasted nine months from the point at which Carlson rejected Ailes to her moving to the midday slot. The lawsuit details that this is a clear example of discrimination against Carlson at work.
The Potential Fallout for FOX
FOX has never been a stranger to controversy in an on and off air capacity. This particular lawsuit is expected to take considerable time to resolve because of the network pledging to fight the allegations. In Ailes’s statement, he said that the allegations leveled against him were entirely false, thus putting an end to any idea of a quick settlement. It even went on to say that the allegations were defamatory, thus opening the door to countersue Carlson.
The case is a complex one and is expected to take years to sort out. If the allegations are made true, there are no indications as to whether Ailes will have to step down from his position.
An Example of a Big US Problem
Gender inequality has always been a huge issue in the US, including down to the fact that there’s still a 19% pay gap between the genders. There have been countless cases over the years of women filing against men who appear to abuse their authority. Regardless of whether the allegations are actually true, few of these cases are ever brought to a conclusion in favor of those filing the cases.
Women have discovered that they are often unable to prove their cases because it’s one person’s word against another’s. To win this case, Ailes will have to prove that he fired Carlson because of performance-related reasons. If there is sufficient evidence to show that he was justified in firing Carlson, she will be unable to win her case.
What Can Businesses Do to Fight this Problem?
The issue has nothing to do with women. It has everything to do with CEOs and their attitude to workplace discrimination. Gender experts recommend that all businesses have some form of diversity policy, and that they have severe punishments for anyone found to be discriminating against someone in the workplace.
FOX are not going to make any changes in the short-term until the conclusion of this case. The legal proceedings against the chief executive are unlikely to gain any air time purely because they would risk prejudicing the case.
Even if Carlson wins the case, there’s no chance that she will ever get her job back, although she would be entitled to a huge sum in the form of compensation.
The Pressure Mounts
What has become clear is that the pressure is mounting against Ailes. Other women have also come forward with allegations of harassment. But only time will tell as to whether any of this is true, since the case should take at least two years to complete.