Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a sexual harassment and retaliation suit Monday in the New York State Supreme Court against the network, former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, and current co-president Bill Shine.
Roginsky, a periodic co-host on Fox’s program “The Five,” said in the suit that Ailes repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances and told her she could have a regular part on that program if she had a sexual relationship with him. She also was a co-host on the program “Outnumbered,” but her suit says she was denied a larger role on that program in retaliation for her refusal to disparage Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson when Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes. Shine also retaliated against Roginsky for refusing to support Ailes and aided and abetted Ailes’ acts of harassment and retaliation, the suit said.
Roginsky’s suit is just the latest in a series of allegations of sexual harassment and other improper conduct plaguing Fox News. It was filed two days after The New York Times reported that the network and anchor Bill O’Reilly have paid about $13 million to settle complaints by five women over sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior. Two of the settlements were reached after Ailes settled Carlson’s suit for a reported $20 million and the network said in public statements that it would not tolerate sexual harassment, the Times said. A sexual harassment suit against the network by another Fox personality, Andrea Tantaros, is pending in state court in Manhattan. And in March, two black women employees of the network claimed in a suit that they were subject to “relentless” racial hostility from a financial executive, who no longer works at the network.
Roginsky is represented by Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin in Montclair, New Jersey, the same attorney who represented Carlson in her suit against Ailes and the network. Roginsky is also represented by Neil Mullin of Smith Mullin and Martin Hyman and Matthew Daly of New York’s Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe.
The suit brings counts under the New York City Human Rights Law for discrimination, harassment and retaliation against Fox News and Ailes and for retaliation against Shine. Roginsky seeks compensatory damages for past and future lost wages, lost income, benefits, retirement losses, stock benefits losses, pain and suffering, stress, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional harm, personal physical injury and physical sickness as well as damage to her reputation, career path and loss of income stemming from such losses. She also seeks punitive damages, attorney fees and costs.
The complaint states that Shine, Fox News general counsel Dianne Brandi and executive vice president Suzanne Scott knew of Ailes’ alleged harassment and retaliation against Roginsky, that the network never investigated those claims, and that Roginsky was never told to contact lawyers from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, who were then investigating Ailes’ alleged pattern of behavior. Furthermore, no one at Paul Weiss ever contacted Roginsky, the suit said.
Ailes, a founder of the network, resigned from his post as chairman and CEO in July 2016, amid allegations of sexual harassment against him by multiple women employees of Fox News.
According to the suit, Ailes frequently called Roginsky into his office for one-on-one meetings, in which he would steer the conversation to her personal life. He asked her if she was dating anyone, why she was not married, and what she was looking for in a man, the complaint states. He would suggest that she should engage in a sexual relationship with an older, married, conservative man because “they may stray but they always come back because they’re loyal,” the suit asserts.
At the meetings, Ailes often sat in a low armchair, and he insisted Roginsky greet him with a kiss, requiring her to bend down to kiss him, the suit claims. “Ailes would consistently position himself in such a way as to look down Roginsky’s dress,” the suit said.
Ailes held his last meeting with Roginsky in April 2015, where he suggested taking her out for a drink, then suggested they have a drink privately, in his office. She said that was “not a good idea,” according to the suit. He immediately dismissed her curtly and refused to meet with her again, the complaint states. Soon after that episode, Roginsky’s regular slot on “The Five” was given to Geraldo Rivera, the suit states. She was instead given a limited role on “Outnumbered.” Roginsky sought a meeting with Ailes to ask if she could rejoin “The Five,” but he refused to meet with her, the suit states.
A Fox News spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment about the suit; nor did a spokesman for the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox. A Paul Weiss spokeswoman did not return a call. Plaintiffs lawyer Smith declined a reporter’s request for an interview.
Copyright New Jersey Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.