NEW YORK — Fox News chief Roger Ailes is seeking to move former anchor Gretchen Carlson’s harassment case against him from a New Jersey court to a closed arbitration panel in New York.
Carlson, who left Fox last month, has accused Ailes of retaliating when she refused his sexual advances and complained about harassment in the workplace at the nation’s top cable news channel.
The charges compelled Twentieth Century Fox, the news network’s parent company, to launch an internal investigation. Meanwhile, other women have come forward to accuse the media executive of sexual misconduct in cases that predated Fox’s 1996 launch, and a succession of Fox personalities have publicly expressed support for their boss.
Ailes, in court papers filed Friday, said Carlson’s contract compelled her to submit to arbitration for employment disputes. His lawyer, Susan Estrich, said Carlson’s lawyers have led a “concerted smear campaign” against Ailes and, in court papers, said the motive is to convince Ailes to pay a large settlement to make the case go away.
“Her attempt to game the system so as to avoid the arbitration clause for her client’s baseless allegations is contrary to law and unsupported by the facts,” Estrich said.
Ailes said it made no sense for a New Jersey court to hear the case since his primary residence and Fox’s offices are in New York, and Carlson lives in Connecticut. Ailes also owns a home in New Jersey.
Carlson, in her lawsuit, alleges that Ailes told her in a private meeting about her workplace complaints that “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.” She said her resistance led to Fox not renewing her contract; Fox said it was unhappy with her ratings.
Through lawyer Nancy Erika Smith, Carlson argued that the arbitration clause doesn’t apply because she’s suing Ailes, not Fox. She objected to forcing Carlson to relive her case in a private arbitration in front of her accuser and away from the public.
Smith said Ailes is trying to “judge shop” because he didn’t like the judge assigned to her case.
“We feel confident that the law will not allow such maneuvering,” she said.