Jessica Golloher’s lawyer made it pretty clear yesterday in a letter to UK regulators that legal action was coming against Fox News Channel over the treatment of the Fox News Radio reporter, and today the discrimination and retaliation complaint hit the courts.
“21st Century Fox and Fox News have attempted to defend the barrage of sexual harassment allegations that have been swirling for months by asserting that none of the victims utilized a ‘hotline’ to voice their complaints,” the 25-page filing in NY Supreme Court says (read it here). “Putting aside the fact that very few employees were even aware that a hotline existed prior to its mention in recent press accounts, Jessica Golloher, Fox News Radio Network’s Middle East/North Africa correspondent, did summon the courage, on April 17, 2017, to email 21st Century Fox’s purported independent investigator and request an opportunity to speak with her regarding issues at Fox,” the paperwork from attorney Doug Wigdor adds.
“Within 24 hours of sending this email, and knowing that Ms. Golloher had previously made internal complaints about gender discrimination, Ms. Golloher was, without any prior warning, fired – effective August 2017,” reads the latest in the flood of filings against the culture and behavior at the Murdoch-run organization. “The decision to terminate Ms. Golloher can only be described as a blatant act of retaliation.”
The filing also openly mocks Fox’s contention that Golloher’s contract was not renewed because of budget tightening and staff streamlining. “The reasons for Ms. Golloher’s termination are entirely pretextual, as it is apparent that Fox will replace Ms. Golloher,” it asserts. “Indeed, while recently on vacation, Fox paid two separate individuals to cover for her despite their purported claim that she is not going to be replaced and that they have no money in the budget to keep Ms. Golloher.”
On May 3, before the jury trial complaint had been formally filed, 21CF said that “any suggestion of discrimination or retaliation is baseless.” It added, not unexpectedly, “We will vigorously defend the matter.” Today, the company took pretty much the same line, saying: “Jessica Golloher’s claims are without merit. Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless. We will vigorously defend the matter.”
And now 21CF will have to do just that as the technically still-employed Golloher is seeking not only determined damages but to keep her job of three years. She also is aiming for an “injunction and order permanently restraining Defendants and their partners, officers, owners, agents, successors, employees and/or representatives and any and all persons acting in concert with them, from engaging in any such further unlawful conduct, including the policies and practices complained of herein.”
Of course, even with other suits that lawyer Wigdor is pursuing against Fox, as well as the firing of Roger Ailes last summer, other exec exits, Bill O’Reilly be pushed out over sexual harassment settlements and new allegations and most recent canning of co-President Bill Shine, the detailed Golloher complaint plays into a larger corporate arena.
No fool to a big PR play, Wigdor’s letter to Ofcom boss Sharon White on Wednesday was designed to disrupt and potentially derail the Murdoch’s desire to finally gain full control of Euro pay TV giant Sky. Pushing back its recommendation until after the British General Election, the UK regulator now is expected to issue its call on June 20. Once rumbled because of the hacking scandal of several years ago, more and more accusations and stains on Fox on this side of the pond might have a ripple effect to a similar outcome this time round.
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