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Fox News will pay $12mn to settle two lawsuits brought by a former producer on Tucker Carlson’s primetime show, who alleged widespread discrimination and harassment at the conservative news network.
Abby Grossberg sued the broadcaster, Carlson and senior executives at Fox earlier this year, alleging that she encountered “systematic chauvinism” at the company, was passed over for promotion in favour of less-qualified men, and was forced to continue working in a “toxic” environment even after reporting that she was suffering from severe stress and anxiety.
The former booking producer also alleged that she had been “coerced and intimidated” by Fox lawyers before being deposed under oath in the defamation case brought by voting machine maker Dominion in 2021, over election fraud lies aired on some prominent Fox programmes.
Fox settled that lawsuit in April for $787.5mn. Carlson was fired shortly afterwards and relaunched his show on Twitter, although Fox has sent him a cease-and-desist letter.
In a statement following the settlement, Grossberg said she was hopeful that “this resolution represents a positive step by the network regarding its treatment of women and minorities in the workplace”.
She added that she would “not comment further” on her treatment at Fox, “but will continue to speak out on issues and causes that I believe in, including journalism, equality, dignity, and respect in the workplace”.
The size of the settlement was confirmed by Grossberg’s lawyers.
Fox, who fired Grossberg soon after she filed the suit in March, said: “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without further litigation.” At the time of the filings, Fox called Grossberg’s claims “unmeritorious” and said the lawsuits were “riddled with false allegations”.
Justin Wells, a former senior executive producer on Carlson’s show who was named in the suit, said in a statement on behalf of those who worked on the programme: “We deny Ms Grossberg’s claims and allegations against Tucker Carlson and his team.” He added: “Nevertheless, we are glad that Fox has settled this matter and that all sides can move forward.”
Grossberg’s cases, filed in Delaware and New York, alleged a “misogynistic environment that permeates Fox News”, where “female workers are verbally violated on almost a daily basis by a poisonous and entrenched patriarchy”.
It said Grossberg, who joined the network in 2019 from ABC News and worked on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday show before joining Tucker Carlson Tonight, was “treated significantly worse than her male counterparts”, and faced religious discrimination over her Jewish faith.
Bartiromo was referred to as “menopausal” and a “crazy bitch” by male colleagues, Grossberg alleged in her lawsuit, while a senior manager on Carlson’s show said a room designated for women to pump breast milk should be replaced with a “room of tanning beds for the guys to tan their testicles”.
Grossberg also claimed that lawyers representing Fox in the case against Dominion coerced her “to deny facts she knew to exist” in her deposition, “thereby exposing her to legal and reputational jeopardy”.
Following that advice, Grossberg said she played down Carlson’s propensity for using misogynistic language, having been told to avoid saying anything that would make her the “star witness” for Dominion’s legal team.
Fox has in the past paid out millions of dollars to settle other claims of sexual harassment at the network, including one made in 2004 against former star Bill O’Reilly by a former producer, Andrea Mackris.
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson also sued the late Roger Ailes, who once ran the company, accusing him of sexual harassment, while another former presenter, Megyn Kelly claimed Ailes had harassed her too.