In the kind of change that could prove more substantial than any monetary fine, the settlement also will block Fox News for four years from including in new employee contracts verbiage requiring confidentiality in complaints of breaches of the city’s Human Rights Law. The company also has to implement training and other preventative measures, the Times reported.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights, which is tasked with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in New York City, began investigating Fox in September 2017 and launched a complaint in December 2018 following employees of the news network speaking out about allegations of violations.
The late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned his position in the summer of 2016 after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Carlson said she was fired when she refused to have sex with an executive, and a year later in April of 2017, former Fox news chairman Bill O’Reilly was forced out of his position following a New York Times investigation of five settlements in harassment cases against him. O’Reilly’s words for the Times during its investigation were: “This is horrible, it’s horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through. This is crap, and you know it.”
The network said in a statement The New York Times obtained on Tuesday that it is “pleased to reach an amicable resolution of this legacy matter.”
“Fox News Media has already been in full compliance across the board, but cooperated with the New York City Commission on Human Rights to continue enacting extensive preventive measures against all forms of discrimination and harassment,” the network added.
It’s unfortunate that all that compliance didn’t seem to lead to an actual change in culture at the network as of last year. Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz were accused of sexual misconduct in a federal complaint Vulture obtained on July 20, 2020. In the lawsuit, journalist Cathy Areu claimed Hannity offered his team $100 to take her on a date to prepare for taping. She also claimed that after a 2018 appearance on Carlson’s show, his tech crew refrained from removing her earpiece so Carlson could invite her to his hotel room.
Journalist Jennifer Eckhart also accused the network of violating sex trafficking laws when it supported former host Ed Henry, who was fired last July after being accused of rape. “In reality, Fox News knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017,” attorneys claimed in the complaint. “At that time, when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment, multiple women came forward to complain that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct towards them.”
Attorneys representing the journalists in the suit alleged an ongoing cycle of inappropriate conduct at Fox News. They said in the suit: “As described in detail herein, Fox News continues to protect and reward perpetrators of sexual harassment and refuses to take accountability for putting such persons in positions of power from which they can subject women to sexual misconduct, sexual assault and, in the case of Ms. Eckhart, rape. Some of the names in leadership may have changed since Roger Ailes’ regime, but Fox News’ institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not.”