Former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson has received among the largest payouts in history – $20 million – to settle a sexual harassment case.
Ironically, the case was settled not by the defendant, former Fox News chairperson Roger Ailes, but by his former employer, 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox news. Ailes, 76, won’t pay a dime. (Not only that, Ailes received a $40 million payout from Fox when he left his job under pressure in July.)
It is speculated Tuesday that Carlson, a former Miss America, secretly tape recorded Ailes, whom she alleged refused to renew her contract after she refused to have sexual relations with him.
The largest sexual harassment award in history is believed to have occurred in 2011 when a federal jury in Tennessee awarded $95 million to Ashley Alford, a young employee who was sexual harassed and physically assaulted by a supervisor at the rent-to-own company, The Aaron’s Inc. The award included $15 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages. U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Reagan subsequently reduced the amount the jury awarded Alford on the sexual harassment claim from $4 million to $300,000 pursuant to a federal statutory cap. on damages under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Judge Reagan also vacated $50 million of the punitive damages award. That still left Alford with about $41 million.
In addition to the monetary award, 21st Century Fox issued a press release stating: “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was no treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”
Meanwhile, two other women at Fox reportedly were offered settlements after complaining about sexual harassment.
Carlson’s complaint appears to have prompted the sudden departure of Fox personality Greta Van Susteren from the network on Tuesday. Susteren had publicly defended Ailes and accused Carlson of retaliating against Ailes after being fired due to poor ratings.
Carlson received little support generally from her former Fox colleagues. In addition to Van Susteren, more than a dozen top personalities at Fox News including Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and Kimberly Guilfoyle defended Ailes against claims of sexual misconduct.