Fox news has recently come under fire for yet another sexual harassment lawsuit involving a political contributor who alleges she was forced into a sexual relationship with Charles Payne, a Fox Business anchor.
The lawsuit, filed by Scottie Nell Hughes, alleges she repeatedly refused Payne by telling him “stop” and “no,” but he allegedly disregarded her protests and forced her to stay in a sexual relationship with him for an extended period of time. Hughes alleges she received extra appearances on both Fox Business and Fox News while she remained in the relationship with Payne, but that when she cut things off, she was allegedly “blacklisted” by the media giant.
In addition, Hughes alleges that, after she brought her concerns over the sexual assault to Fox in confidence, the media company allegedly leaked her name to the press, along with a “statement” in which Payne apologized for the affair. Hughes and her attorney object to both the manner in which Fox handled the situation and Payne’s use of the term, “affair,” which implies she consented.
Payne was suspended from the network, pending an internal investigation into Hughes’s allegations, but has since returned to work.
Hughes has said that the complaint her attorney recently filed speaks for itself, and that she is pursuing litigation so that no other woman will have to suffer through the hell she says she is now experiencing.
With this lawsuit, Hughes’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, is now working on more than ten open discrimination lawsuits against Fox News. Additionally, the lawsuit comes just months after Bill O’Reilly was forced out amid similar allegations of sexual assault and harassment, and mere weeks after Eric Bolling was suspended over allegations of lewd messages he allegedly sent to female coworkers. Fox has since announced that Bolling will not be returning to the network.
After Wigdor filed the sexual harassment lawsuit on Hughes’s behalf, Fox released another statement dismissing both the plaintiff and her attorney, saying it apparently took Hughes a long time to find an attorney willing to file her “bogus case” over events that happened four years ago.
But, while the initial assault may have happened over the summer of 2013, the alleged retaliation Hughes received from Fox happened just this past summer, according to a statement she gave to The Times.
Fox also attacked Wigdor, calling the lawsuit a publicity stunt.
While Wigdor has been known to use the media to his advantage by including scandalous and embarrassing details in his complaints that are not necessarily legally relevant, that does not mean the claims of his dozens of plaintiffs are all baseless. On the contrary, Wigdor has said he has convinced the culture of harassment and discrimination comes from the very top of 20th Century Fox, creating a culture of systemic bigotry.
Fox denies the claims and has said it has every intention of fighting the lawsuit. Whether they will fight it to the end or pay millions to settle outside of court – as they have for many other allegations of sexual assault and harassment – remains to be seen.
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