Employment discrimination, sexual abuse case against Fox to push through

Complaint details allegations that Laura Luhn was sexually harassed, threatened, discriminated against for 15 years

Employment discrimination, sexual abuse case against Fox to push through

Fox News Network, Twenty-First Century Fox and Fox News Co-President Bill Shine will have to face an employment discrimination and sexual abuse complaint filed against former them after the New York Supreme Court rejected their motions to dismiss.

The complaint alleges a decades-long campaign of discrimination, manipulation, threats, and sexual assaults by former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes against former Fox News employee Laura Luhn. 

The law firm Reid Collins & Tsai filed the case on behalf of Luhn under the 2022 New York State Adult Survivors Act (ASA) and related New York City statutes.

Judge Lyle Frank found that a settlement agreement with Fox that Luhn signed previously may not be enforceable because she may have signed the deal under duress.

“Plaintiff’s complaint is replete with factual allegations regarding duress and her inability to report the alleged sexual abuse and misconduct while it was occurring,” he said in the order. “At this stage of the litigation, the duress that is alleged to have occurred prior to the negotiation of the agreement between the parties is enough for this case to not be dismissed.”

Fox News has faced numerous charges of sexual harassment in the workplace in the past.

In April 2022, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization in the United States – removed Fox News from its Corporate Equality Index after nearly one week of attacks on transgender Americans.

Years of sexual harassment

In the Laura W. Luhn v. Fox News Network, LLC, Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. & William Shine case, Luhn claims she suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands Ailes. Ailes brought Luhn on as an employee of Fox News at its inception.

The lawsuit claims that starting in 1991, Ailes instructed her to meet him at a hotel in Virginia for what would become the first incident of years of alleged abuse, instructing her to dress in a black garter and stockings, calling it her “uniform,” and telling her to dance for him. Ailes apparently videotaped her doing so, along with calling her a “whore” and “spy” and demanding she perform oral sex.

Ailes allegedly would refer to other photos and videos of Luhn as his “insurance,” according to the complaint.

These “booking meetings” at hotels allegedly would be repeated several times until 2005.

And the organization covered up these abuses, according to the complaint.

“Not only was Fox News aware of Ailes’s ongoing sexual abuse, but it also did everything within its power to discredit women who came forward by silencing, firing, blacklisting, and publicly smearing them. Throughout its first two decades in existence, Fox News repeatedly protected its powerful male executives at the expense of women employees who faced abuse and trauma."

It also noted that Shine, former Fox News co-president, aided and abetted Ailes’s sex crimes, which constituted discrimination, by knowingly helping Ailes conceal and cover up such acts. 

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