UPDATED, 8:07 PM: Gretchen Carlson’s attorneys Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman have released a statement about Roger Ailes seeking arbitration in her lawsuit: “Roger Ailes is trying to force this case into a secret arbitration proceeding. Gretchen never agreed to arbitrate anything with Mr. Ailes and the contract on which he relies does not mention him and is not signed by him. Gretchen intends to fight for her right to a public jury trial, a right protected by the discrimination laws and our Constitution. It is disturbing that the head of a large media company would try to silence the press and hide from the public a matter of such importance.”
The moves come two days after longtime Fox News host Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss, a move that a source with knowledge of the situation. She claimed she was ousted after rebuffing his advances.
In today’s multiple filings, Ailes says Carlson had an arbitration clause in her contract that if there were disputes with employers they needed to be raised by the American Arbitration Association. That did not occur, according to a filing (read it here), which showed the actual clause in the contract.
“Ignoring this agreed-to binding arbitration provision, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County, alleging that Defendant Roger Ailes, Fox News’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, sexually harassed her and later retaliated against her by not renewing her Agreement because she had rebuffed his alleged advances, all in alleged violation of the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Adm. Code § 8-107,” said the filing.
“Plaintiff improperly filed her public Complaint with the Superior Court, as opposed to filing it with the AAA and adhering to her contractually-required confidentiality obligation, so that her counsel could tar Mr. Ailes’s reputation publicly, try this case in the media press, and coerce him to settle.”
The filing says Carlson’s lawyers did not attach Fox News to the lawsuit in “a transparent attempt” to evade terms of the employment contract. “As will be addressed below, federal, New York and New Jersey law all definitively hold that a plaintiff cannot avoid an agreed-to arbitration provision with her employer by just suing a corporate officer (such as Chairman and CEO Ailes) in court,” the filing said.
Yesterday, Carlson’s attorneys at Smith Mullin PC issued a statement blasting as “demonstrably false” Ailes’ claims Carlson’s contract was not renewed owing to disappointing ratings. In a statement, Nancy Erika Smith and Martin Hyman said, “The publicly available ratings confirm the allegation in the Complaint that at the time of her termination Gretchen’s total viewership was up 33% year to date and up 23% in the key demographic,” they said.
“Gretchen Carlson had an arbitration clause in her contract, stating that any employment dispute regarding her employment at Fox News must be done via confidential arbitration, said attorney Barry Asen, Partner at Epstein, Becker and Green in a statement. “Because Ms. Carlson’s lawsuit violated the arbitration clause, a motion was filed in federal court to have the case arbitrated. The federal court is the proper court to decide the motion because Ms. Carlson’s primary residence is in Connecticut and Mr. Ailes’ primary residence is in New York.”
Fox News parent 21st Century Fox said it is conducting an internal review of the matter.