Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ Legal Team Says Gretchen Carlson Attempted To Game Court System On Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is currently facing a sexual harassment lawsuit from former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Carlson filed suit against Ailes several weeks ago, alleging “sexual and/or sexist comments,” “sexual advances by various means,” and that her contract was ended due to her attempts to put an end to his behavior.

Ailes’ legal team’s first response to this was to request that the New Jersey court move the suit to private arbitration, suggesting that “Ms. Carlson and her lawyer are desperately attempting to litigate this in the press because they have no legal case to argue.”

In other words, Ailes' legal team are pretty unhappy that his alleged actions are now in the spotlight - and they want to rush them out as soon as possible.

“Listen, do I want to be in arbitration? No. I don’t think arbitration is fair… They’re all white men,” Carlson’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said.

The New Jersey court agreed with Smith that arbitration was both unfair and that “Gretchen never agreed to arbitrate anything with Mr. Ailes.”

“Roger Ailes is trying to force this case into a secret arbitration proceeding.”

Now, according to Uproxx, their arbitration ploy having failed, Ailes’ lawyers are attempting to get the trial moved to New York, in what many, including Smith, are calling blatant “judge shopping.”

“After invoking jurisdiction of the New Jersey federal court and filing a motion there, Mr. Ailes decided that he doesn’t like the judge assigned to this case and he illegally is attempting to judge shop by now seeking to move the lawsuit to another jurisdiction. We feel confident that the law will not allow such maneuvering.”

Ailes’ legal team also continued their attempts to smear Carlson, reiterating their claim that she had agreed to arbitration in her agreement with Fox and suggesting that her suit was “a carefully orchestrated publicity attack” intended to “besmirch Mr. Ailes’s reputation so that he will pay her an exorbitant settlement.”

They also — rather childishly — attempted to directly turn the accusation around on Carlson, accusing her of being the one judge shopping, lying, and maneuvering.

“This is the latest false statement she has made. She has tried to rig this case to deny Mr. Ailes the agreed-upon forum, which is arbitration.”

It’s no surprise that Ailes’ legal team wants to get the case moved out of the public eye as quickly as possible. Since Carlson launched her suit, dozens of other women have come forward to tell their own stories of harassment and abuse at Ailes’ hands, many of them claiming that they were refused work for refusing to sleep with him and “a few of my select friends.”

The fact that Ailes is often seen in public surrounded by young women hasn't exactly helped his case.

And sometimes, that’s the entire point of a public sexual harassment case like this — to give other victims the courage to come forward. For example, in the case against Bill Cosby, over 50 women ended up coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape, following in the footsteps of others. And the case against Roger Ailes is no different. Smith, who is still receiving regular calls, said that “These are women who have never told these stories until now. Some are in lot of pain.”

Fox News continues to stick to their legal guns, calling the suit “a ludicrous ploy to try to get around the completely enforceable arbitration clause in her contract. You can’t separate the CEO from the company he runs.”

Unfortunately, for both Ailes and Fox, yes, you can, when the CEO’s alleged actions are criminal on an individual level — and Fox would certainly waste no time in disavowing Ailes were he caught in what is seen as a more serious crime.

Update: Susan Estrich, Partner at Quinn Emanuel, issued the following statement on the lawsuit.

“Gretchen Carlson’s attorney has led a concerted smear campaign to prejudice the rights of Roger Ailes in this case. Her attempt to game the system so as to avoid the arbitration clause for her client’s baseless allegations is contrary to law and unsupported by the facts. Accordingly, we have taken the following action today: We have filed papers in the federal court in Manhattan to compel the arbitration of Carlson’s claims in New York City at the American Arbitration Association, as required by her Employment Agreement. At the same time, we have asked the federal district court in New Jersey to transfer the case to federal court in Manhattan, where it can be consolidated with the case we filed today. The court in Manhattan is the proper place to compel arbitration because (1) Carlson worked at Fox News in New York City, (2) her employment agreement requires arbitration in New York City, (3) she has based her claims solely on New York City law and (4) neither she nor Mr. Ailes resides in New Jersey.

A Fox News spokesperson had this to say about Erika Smith’s judge shopping statement.

“We’re trying to get this to the court where it belongs – if anything, Gretchen Carlson’s lawyer was attempting to judge shop by originally having this heard in her comfort zone of state court in Bergen County, where neither Roger nor Gretchen reside. What we filed today renders these papers completely moot.

“This is the latest false statement she has made. She has tried to rig this case to deny Mr. Ailes the agreed-upon forum, which is arbitration.”

[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]