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Roger Ailes' lawyers want arbitration for Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment suit

Roger Ailes' lawyers want arbitration for Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment suit
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson gave her first interview since filing a lawsuit last week alleging that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes made sexual advances before firing her. (Getty Images)

Attorneys for Roger Ailes are seeking to have former anchor Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment case against the Fox News chairman and chief executive decided confidentially in arbitration.

A motion filed Friday in the federal court in Newark, N.J., cites a clause in Carlson's contract, which expired June 23, that said any employment dispute with Fox News had to be decided through an arbitration panel out of public view. Attorneys are saying Carlson cannot evade that clause by naming Ailes and not Fox News in the suit.

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Carlson filed suit against Ailes in a New Jersey Superior Court on July 7, alleging her contract with Fox News was not renewed in retaliation for her complaints regarding a hostile work environment and because she rebuffed sexual advances made by Ailes. The suit also alleges that Ailes sexually harassed Carlson, who worked as anchor and co-host for Fox News for 11 years.

Parent company 21st Century Fox said it will launch an internal investigation of the claims in the suit. Ailes has denied all of the allegations made by Carlson, and said her contract, which paid her more than $1 million annually, was not renewed because her ratings were weaker than the rest of the Fox News lineup.

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Fox News executives have also cited handwritten correspondence from Carlson to Ailes that demonstrated a cordial relationship with him after a meeting on Sept. 16 at which she alleged the executive made sexually explicit comments to her.

The motion filed by Ailes' attorneys said Carlson's filing of the case in court was done "so that her counsel could tar Mr. Ailes' reputation publicly, try this case in the media press, and coerce him to settle."

They add that Carlson's lawyers have "been on a nonstop tour of major media outlets ever since, making one false and defamatory statement after another" about Ailes.

Nancy Erika Smith, one of Carlson's attorneys, has said in media interviews other women who worked for Ailes have contacted her office about coming forward to describe past inappropriate behavior by him that is similar to what Carlson allegedly experienced.

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Smith and Martin Hyman said the move by Ailes' attorneys is an attempt to "force this case into a secret arbitration proceeding. Gretchen never agreed to arbitrate anything with Mr. Ailes and the contract on which he relies does not mention and is not signed by him. Gretchen intends to fight for her right to a public jury trial, a right protected by the discrimination laws and our Constitution."

Ailes' attorney Barry Asen said in a statement that "Gretchen Carlson had an arbitration clause in her contract, stating that any employment dispute regarding her employment at Fox News must be done via confidential arbitration. Because Ms. Carlson's lawsuit violated the arbitration clause, a motion was filed in federal court to have the case arbitrated."

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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UPDATES:

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8:08 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details from Roger Ailes' attorney.

7:53 p.m.: This story was updated with a statement from Roger Ailes' attorney.

This article was originally published at 7:13 p.m.

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