Last Tuesday, the New York City Commission on Human Rights levied a $1 million penalty against Fox News stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct that led to the resignations of Roger Ailes, its co-founder, and the anchor Bill O’Reilly. According to USA Today, “[there were] a series of high-profile reports alleging a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retaliation at the network.”
In 2017, Juliet Huddy, an employee at Fox, claimed that O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011. However, when she denied him, he tried to sabotage her career.
In an interview, the agency’s chair and commissioner, Carmelyn P. Malalis spoke about the penalty. “This is the largest civil penalty that has ever been levied by the City Commission on Human Rights,” she mentioned. “We need to send a message in order to deter future acts of harassment or retaliation.”
The settlement was finalized on June 25 and will prevent Fox News from including in new employment contracts a clause requiring confidential arbitration in cases where an employee lodges a complaint under the city’s Human Rights Law.
Fox responded to the fine with an official statement: “We are pleased to reach an amicable resolution of this legacy matter,” they said. “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.”
Malalis further explained the impact of this agreement and what employees can expect moving forward.
“Employers seeking to improve transparency and accountability on discrimination and harassment should look to this change in mandatory arbitration as a model for future policy,” Malalis said. “The Commission takes all allegations of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, and retaliation very seriously and our settlement today demonstrates that in New York City no one is above the law.”