21st Century Fox has paid out $50 million in costs and fees to settle harassment claims against Fox News
Fox News parent 21st Century Fox has paid out $50 million to settle sexual harassment claims made against the network over the past year.
The disclosed amount, revealed Monday in the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is up from the $45 million that company said in May was incurred over the previous nine months.
The settlements have occurred since Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes, charging him with harassment and retaliation, opened a floodgate of claims against the company. Ailes denied the charges but was forced out of the company, which paid a $20-million settlement to Carlson.
Carlson’s suit led to a companywide investigation. Dozens of women came forward to complain about treatment at a company where harassment and inappropriate behavior had been tolerated or ignored. Fox also faces a class-action racial discrimination lawsuit.
The company has acted quickly in recent months to respond to harassment claims. Two on-air hosts — Fox News Channel’s Eric Bolling and Fox Business Network’s Charles Payne — are currently suspended as harassment claims against them are being investigated by law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
The company noted that it faces more litigation and settlement costs related to the matters. But the SEC filing says that is not expected to have an adverse impact on its financial condition.
The figure does not include the contract payouts to employees accused of harassment and forced out of the company. Ailes, who died in May, reportedly received $40 million when he exited Fox last summer. Fox News prime-time star Bill O’Reilly received at least a year’s worth of the salary on his newly signed contract — about $25 million — when he departed in April after revelations that the company had paid off a number of harassment claims going back to 2004. O’Reilly denied the allegations against him.
The company did note that it had restructuring charges of $224 million in the past year “primarily related to costs in connection with management and employee transitions and restructuring” in several of its business units including Fox News Channel. The figure is within the range of restructuring charges made in the previous two fiscal years before the harassment charges hit.
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