Winning the Miss America pageant in 1988 kicked off Gretchen Carlson’s career in broadcast journalism. But the former FOX News anchor, now 51, had no inkling then of what she would be forced to endure as she struggled to keep her career trajectory on target.
Before the kerfuffle over the alleged lascivious behavior of Harvey Weinstein, there was the egregious sexual harassment of FOX News talent by the network’s former chief executive officer (CEO), Roger Ailes.
In July of 2016, Carlson’s contract with the network was up for renewal. Network brass declined to renew it despite Carlson having spent the last 10 years helping the station build its brand. But she alleges this slight had far deeper roots, as she had repeatedly rebuffed Ailes’ attempts to initiate a sexual relationship with her.
Claiming that the nonrenewal of her contract was the reprisal for her refusal to enter into a quid pro quo sexual relationship with Ailes, Carlson filed suit alleging she had been sexually harassed during her years with FOX.
It was as if she had turned a bright light on in a very dark room. Suddenly, other women who worked with Ailes at FOX corroborated her tale with their own stories of harassment and requests for transactional sex in order to remain employed with the network or advance in their fields. A month later, Ailes retired in disgrace from FOX, the network he had built from the ground up.
Ninety days after she filed, FOX News settled out-of-court with Carlson for $20 million and an apology, which stated in part that “Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
It was an unprecedented victory for Carlson and a symbolic one for females everywhere who had been subjected to sexual harassment and wrongful termination for failing to submit to a powerful executive’s sexual demands.
If you were wrongfully terminated from employment under similar circumstances as Carlson, you may decide to pursue civil justice through the Minnesota court system.
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, “Minnesota’s Gretchen Carlson on how to confront, report and end sexual harassment,” Tom Weber, Oct. 19, 2017