Attorneys for Fox News Channel Monday sought to have a suit filed by a former correspondent, Andrea Tantaros, against the 21st Century Fox-owned cable news outlet moved to arbitration, saying her charges of being harassed at the network were “unverified” and that she had violated the terms of her employment contract with the network.
Tantaros, a former host of “The Five” and “Outnumbered, alleged in a filing in the Supreme Court of the State of New York last week that she was the victim of retaliation by senior executives at the network after she complained about inappropriate remarks made to her by Roger Ailes, the former chairman and chief executive of the network. Her suit is the latest chapter in a saga that has fascinated the media industry and which has already resulted in the ouster of Ailes from the TV network he guided for about two decades.
Ailes left Fox News last month in the wake of an internal investigation that is believed to have turned up evidence of several female employees at the operation being harassed sexually during their time of employment. Ailes has denied all allegations, the first of which were made by Gretchen Carlson, another former Fox News Channel anchor who alleged her contract at the network was terminated after she complained about how women were treated at the news network.
In the suit, Tantaros alleged Ailes made demeaning remarks to her, such as “I bet you look good in a bikini,” and also asked inappropriate questions about her romantic life as well as the lives of other Fox News staffers. When Tarantos and her representatives complained to senior Fox News executives, the suit alleges, the anchor was first moved to the daytime program “Outnumbered’ from “The Five,” and was told to cease her complaints because it was likely she would not prevail. She also claimed the network “operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
In legal papers filed Monday, however, lawyers for Fox News said Tantaros “is not a victim; she is an opportunist,” and indicated her claims against the network could not be substantiated. The network’s parent company instigated an internal review after Carlson’s allegations were made, which is believed to be ongoing, and the Fox News attorneys alleged Tantaros’ attorney did not respond to a query from its law firm, Paul, Weiss.
The Fox News filing said Tantaros had been suspended because she published a book without gaining approval from the network, and called upon the court to send the case to an arbitration proceeding that had already commenced. “Tantaros’s complaint is fìlled with falsehoods, but for present purposes, what matters most is that her foundational allegation – that her lawsuit has been properly filed in this Court – is demonstrably wrong,” the Fox News filing stated. The network said Tantaros was bound by an employment agreement to settle the dispute in arbitration.
An attorney for Tantaros, Judd Burstein, said he believed his client would prevail in her efforts to have the case presented in court.