Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed papers Friday seeking to keep her sexual harassment suit against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in court and out of secret arbitration.
Carlson sued Ailes a week ago in New Jersey state court claiming she was fired after she refused to sleep with Ailes.
Ailes has denied the sexual harassment charges. Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox said it had confidence in Ailes but is conducting an internal investigation of the matter.
Ailes also filed motions to move the case to Federal court and have it decided by arbitrations. Ailes says Carlson’s contract calls for employment disputes to be settled confidentially in arbitration.
Lawyers for Carlson also said they plan to file papers Monday to keep the case in state court.
“After invoking jurisdiction of the New Jersey federal court and filing a motion there, Mr. Ailes decided that he doesn’t like the judge assigned to this case and he illegally is attempting to judge shop by now seeking to move the lawsuit to another jurisdiction,” said Nancy Smith, Ms. Carlson’s attorney. “We feel confident that the law will not allow such maneuvering.”
In response to Carlson’s filing, a Fox News spokesperson said, “We’re trying to get this to the court where it belongs – if anything, Gretchen Carlson’s lawyer was attempting to judge shop by originally having this heard in her comfort zone of state court in Bergen County, where neither Roger nor Gretchen reside. What we filed today renders these papers completely moot.
A lawyer for Ailes, Susan Estrich, partner at Quinn Emanuel said the case should be decided in federal Court in Manhattan because Carlson worked at Fox News in New York and she based her claims on New York City law.
Here is the full statement from Estrich:
“Gretchen Carlson’s attorney has led a concerted smear campaign to prejudice the rights of Roger Ailes in this case. Her attempt to game the system so as to avoid the arbitration clause for her client’s baseless allegations is contrary to law and unsupported by the facts. Accordingly, we have taken the following action today: We have filed papers in the federal court in Manhattan to compel the arbitration of Carlson’s claims in New York City at the American Arbitration Association, as required by her Employment Agreement. At the same time, we have asked the federal district court in New Jersey to transfer the case to federal court in Manhattan, where it can be consolidated with the case we filed today. The court in Manhattan is the proper place to compel arbitration because (1) Carlson worked at Fox News in New York City, (2) her employment agreement requires arbitration in New York City, (3) she has based her claims solely on New York City law and (4) neither she nor Mr. Ailes resides in New Jersey.”