Gretchen Carlson’s sex claim against Fox News chief could be short circuited by clause in contract

Let the battle of high-powered attorneys commence.

A lawyer representing Fox News chief Roger Ailes is claiming Gretchen Carlson violated an arbitration clause in her employment contract when she sued Ailes and has filed a motion in federal court to have the case arbitrated. 

Carlson filed a lawsuit after not having her contract renewed in late June, claiming she was terminated for “refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.” Fox News host Steve Doocy, who sat on the couch with Carlson on “Fox & Friends,” was also named in the suit for alleged sexual harassment.

Ailes adamantly denies the allegation, calling it “retaliatory” after Carlson realized that her career with the network was likely over. Either way, the battle promises to be bruising for all concerned.

Attorney Barry Asen, a partner at Epstein, Becker and Green who represents the Fox News chairman, said Friday a motion was filed in federal court to have the lawsuit arbitrated because of the breach of contract.

“Gretchen Carlson had an arbitration clause in her contract, stating that any employment dispute regarding her employment at Fox News must be done via confidential arbitration. Because Ms. Carlson’s lawsuit violated the arbitration clause, a motion was filed in federal court to have the case arbitrated,” Asen said.

The action would also serve to move jurisdiction of the case to federal court.

“The federal court is the proper court to decide the motion because Ms. Carlson’s primary residence is in Connecticut and Mr. Ailes’ primary residence is in New York,” Asen added.

The firm representing Carlson disputes the filing, saying the arbitration agreement was with the network and that Carlson is suing Ailes individually, Variety reported.

“Roger Ailes is trying to force this case into a secret arbitration proceeding. Gretchen never agreed to arbitrate anything with Mr. Ailes and the contract on which he relies does not mention him and is not signed by him,” her attorneys said in a statement. “Gretchen intends to fight for her right to a public jury trial, a right protected by the discrimination laws and our Constitution. It is disturbing that the head of a large media company would try to silence the press and hide from the public a matter of such importance.”

Tom Tillison


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