She has commanded the nation’s attention for a long time. Gretchen Carlson was named Miss America in 1989 and later rose to greater prominence as a host of the popular “Fox & Friends” political talk show. She became a household name, however, when she filed a lawsuit in July of 2016 against then Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes claiming sexual harassment.
Her lawsuit led not only to the ouster of Ailes, but to conversations around America about sexual harassment in the workplace.
You might recall that Carlson’s lawsuit triggered similar complaints from a half-dozen other women claiming that Ailes had harassed them as well and demanded sexual favors. Soon afterwards, Ailes resigned and Fox issued an apology to Carlson. The company also settled her claim for a reported $20 million.
More than a year has passed since Carlson upended the media world. A lot of her Milwaukee fans wonder when she will return to television.
In a recent interview, she talked about her plans to return to television (she declined to say whether she’s considering joining “The View”) and an upcoming book.
She said one of the book’s chapters will “lay out a playbook for women to know what to do if they happen to find themselves in a harassment situation in the workplace.”
She said that in some cases, women will take the abuse for awhile and then discuss it with someone in HR. After an investigation has been launched, the harassment victim will too often realize that she has not gathered evidence or even discussed the problem with a co-worker.
Carlson also said that while she cannot discuss the Fox situation, she can say that since the downfall of Ailes and others, some people have gotten the impression that the problem of sexual harassment has been solved.
“The reality is that we’re not even close,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with our employment contracts and forcing us into secrecy (by) making us sign on the dotted line to say that we’ll take all disputes to forced arbitration.”
Carlson understands that with proper legal guidance, sexual harassment claims can be favorably settled out of court. She also knows that sometimes litigation is the only means of obtaining justice.
An experienced employment law attorney can help you understand your legal options in these matters.