Fox News Admits To Violating New York Human Rights Law
Fox News has admitted to an ongoing “pattern of violating New York City Human Rights Law” including sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against victimized employees and will pay the city a fine of $1 million. The sum is paltry compared to media company’s profits (an estimated $571 in the first quarter of this year) but it represents the largest financial penalty ever levied in the commission’s six decade history.
The settlement agreement, reached last week, also requires the network to remove mandatory confidential arbitration clauses from the contracts of on-air talent, other employees and contributors for a period of four years when they file legal claims under the city’s human-rights law. According to a statement by the commission, it “also demands immediate changes to policies surrounding reporting sexual harassment, retaliation, training, and compliance with the NYC Human Rights Law.” Fox will be monitored “on a quarterly basis for a period of 2 years to ensure compliance.”
Among the policy changes required by the Commission, the network has agreed to provide all employees with a clear definition of “retaliation” and training for bystanders to intervene in incidents and to properly report any witnessed misconduct.
The Commission said Fox News’ million-dollar civil penalty was based on the maximum fine of $250,000 for each of four violations cited in the settlement agreement, “a figure reserved for willful and wanton violations of the law.” The statement added: “The Commission ascertained that a pattern and practice of violations took place at Fox.”
Labor lawyer Nancy Erika Smith, who represented former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in the sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit that cost Roger Ailes his job (and won Carlson a $20 million settlement from Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox), called the right-wing cable channel’s settlement agreement, especially its admission of guilt, “monumental.”