The commission stated that the historic fine is the result of an investigation it had initiated on its own “into a series of high-profile reports alleging a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retaliation at the network.” The settlement “represents the first of its kind against a major news network by a civil rights enforcement agency in the country,” according to the commission.
The $1 million figure represents a maximum civil penalty of $250,000 for each violation.
The Daily Beast notes that the network has “effectively admitted to ongoing misconduct that includes sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against victimized employees.”
In addition to the fines, Fox has agreed to make changes to its practices, perhaps most importantly to mandatory confidential arbitration for complaints. From The Daily Beast:
[The settlement agreement] also requires Fox News to remove mandatory confidential arbitration clauses from the contracts of on-air talent along with other employees and contributors for a period of four years when they file legal claims under the city’s human-rights law outside of the company’s internal process.
Attorney Nancy Erika Smith, who represented former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in her sexual harassment suit against the network, which led to the downfall of Roger Ailes, called the agreement “monumental,” but she also told The Daily Beast she was disappointed that the arbitration probation only lasts four years and is not permanent.
So, does this mean we’ll get to hear from Carlson, who has been fighting for release from the non-disclosure agreement that has silenced her? That does not seem to be the case but Carlson is clearly looking for a way:
My lawyers are reviewing this. Back when i know more.#foxnews https://t.co/OGPAWJgvPc
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) June 29, 2021
Former Fox contributor Julie Roginsky, another sexual harassment victim bound by a NDA, pointed out Fox’s hypocrisy in saying, on the one hand, that the sexual harassment is a “legacy” issue and, on the other, refusing to let the victims speak.
Actually, retroactively releasing us from our NDAs would allow us to tell our stories. If this were truly a "legacy" issue, as FNC claims, current FNC executives would have nothing to fear and would allow us to speak.
The fact that they won't allow us to speak speaks volumes. https://t.co/hIpANchzDo
— Julie Roginsky (@julieroginsky) June 29, 2021