A former producer at Fox News sued Bill O’Reilly in federal court on Monday, alleging that he defamed her by denying that anyone had complained about his conduct and by implying that she and other accusers were financially and politically motivated.
Rachel Witlieb Bernstein also alleges that O’Reilly violated the non-disparagement clause of their 2002 confidential settlement. Bernstein’s case was one of five reported by the New York Times on April 1, which ultimately led to O’Reilly’s firing from Fox News.
According to that report, Bernstein received a confidential settlement and left the network after O’Reilly stormed into the newsroom and berated her. In response to the Times’ story, O’Reilly contended that no one had ever complained about him to the company’s Human Resources department, or reported him on a confidential hotline. Fox News also issued a statement noting that no one had taken advantage of the hotline.
Bernstein is also suing Fox News, alleging that the company’s statement was deliberately misleading because the hotline was not in existence in 2002. She also says she complained several times to HR and to Fox News executives.
Last month, O’Reilly gave interviews in which he alleged that his firing was the result of a “political and financial hit job.”
“These false statements portrayed plaintiff in a false light and disparaged her character, in fact calling her a liar and an extortionist,” the lawsuit states. “In fact, Mr. O’Reilly is the liar. He mistreated Ms. Bernstein. She was forced out of her job and paid a settlement because of his mistreatment.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, O’Reilly’s attorney Fredric Newman, said that O’Reilly has never uttered Berstein’s name publicly.
“And as the original New York Times story makes clear, this was absolutely not a case of sexual harassment,” Newman said. “So today’s lawsuit has absolutely no merit, and Mr. O’Reilly will respond aggressively in court.”
Bernstein is represented by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin.