Business & Tech

Fox News and Ailes hit with new sexual harassment suit

Julie Roginsky, a current Fox News contributor, filed suit against Roger Ailes (right), Fox News, and its president.

Associated Press Photos by Richard Drew (left) and Charles Sykes

Julie Roginsky, a current Fox News contributor, filed suit against Roger Ailes (right), Fox News, and its president.

NEW YORK — Nearly nine months after Roger Ailes was ousted from his position as chairman of Fox News Channel, another woman has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him and the network.

On Monday, Julie Roginsky, a current Fox News contributor, filed a 17-page suit in New York state Supreme Court against Ailes, Fox News, and Bill Shine, the network’s co-president, asserting that she faced retaliation for rebuffing Ailes’ sexual advances and for refusing to disparage Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who sued Ailes last summer.

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The new suit adds to Fox News’ woes at a time when it is trying to move past the sexual harassment crisis that engulfed the network last year. The network recently reached a settlement valued at more than $2.5 million, according to people briefed on the agreement, with a former contributor named Tamara Holder, who said she was sexually assaulted by a senior manager in his office. Also, the US attorney’s office in New York City is looking into how Fox News structures its settlements, an inquiry disclosed in a court hearing in February by the lawyer for a former Fox employee suing the company.

And this weekend, The New York Times published an investigation that found a total of five women who made allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior against the network’s top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly, and had received payouts in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him.

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One woman, Wendy Walsh, who made allegations against O’Reilly but did not receive a settlement, held a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss her allegations. Her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, seated next to her, called for an independent investigation into Fox News.

Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Roginsky’s suit.

Susan R. Estrich, a lawyer for Ailes, said that he “vociferously denies her allegations.”

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She called the assertions in Roginsky’s suit “hogwash” and said that the suit was a “copycat complaint.”

“Her interactions with Mr. Ailes were not even close to the fictional version she wants people to believe now,” Estrich said in a statement.

The assertions in Roginsky’s suit echo the complaints that other women have made about Ailes and the culture at the network, where women have said they faced harassment and feared reporting it.

In the complaint, Roginsky stated that Ailes made sexist comments and unwanted sexual advances toward her during one-on-one meetings in his office, including requiring that she “bend down to kiss him hello” when he sat in a low armchair and telling her that they would get into “so much trouble” if he took her “out for a drink.”

Ailes also would tell her that she should “engage in sexual relationships with ‘older, married, conservative men,’ ” the suit stated.

“These comments and their delivery made it clear that Ailes wanted a sexual relationship with Roginsky,” the suit stated.

Roginsky asserted in the suit that she faced retaliation for refusing Ailes’ advances. She said that she was denied a permanent position as a host on the program “The Five” and was rarely allowed to host her own segments on the show “Outnumbered,” unlike other panelists. She also stated that she was punished for not joining “Team Roger” when Carlson filed suit last summer — a reference, presumably, to a group of Fox News employees who publicly supported Ailes.

In the suit, Roginsky also stated that she discussed her complaints in a meeting with Shine and another top network executive during a meeting in November, months after Ailes was dismissed in July. She stated that Fox News did not investigate her complaints or instruct her to contact the lawyers at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the firm that conducted an internal investigation into sexual harassment issues at Fox News.

Roginsky’s lawyer is Nancy Erika Smith, the same lawyer who represented Carlson, who received a $20 million settlement after leaving the network.

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