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Fox News Agrees to Pay $1 Million More for Harassment

The New York City Commission on Human Rights (Commission) fined Fox News for violating laws prohibiting sexual harassment and retaliation. It is the largest penalty in the Commission’s history. The one-million-dollar total reflects four separate violations, each carrying a maximum $250,000 penalty. In addition to the settlement amount, Fox News must also provide anti-harassment training to its New York-based staff and contributors. For the next four years, the company must drop its binding arbitration requirement for misconduct allegations. Fox will institute an anonymous hotline for employees to complain about harassment or retaliation; the company will also be monitored by outside inspectors for the next two years.

These requirements stem from a 2017 investigation into “rampant” abuse at Fox News. Former news anchor Gretchen Carlson first publicized the harassment, accusing former network chief Roger Ailes of making unwanted advances towards her and retaliating against her when she refused his advances. Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, also the subject of sexual misconduct allegations, lost their jobs as a result. Several other women also came forward with similar allegations against men in the network. The Commission asserted it found women who rejected advances received fewer opportunities to appear on-air, received bad work assignments, and the company reviewed their text messages. The company purportedly made sure that individuals who complained did not have a future with Fox. The Commission would not disclose the identity of the individuals who brought charges to them.

Fox views the penalty as part of its past. With new management running Fox News, the company asserted it has changed under new leadership. The Commission’s penalty is based on allegations brought before the new leadership was in place. Fox stated, “We are pleased to reach an amicable resolution of this legacy matter.”