Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson has filed suit charging that she was fired after being sexually harassed by Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
Carlson is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
The suit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey, charges that Ailes fired the 50-year-old Carlson because she refused to sleep with Ailes and reported disparaging treatment in the newsroom.
She was let go the day her contract expired—June 23—despite her show, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, being the leading cable news program in its afternoon time slot, the suit says.
"We believe that the evidence will confirm that Gretchen was fired from Fox & Friends for speaking up about demeaning and discriminatory behavior on and off the set," said Nancy Erika Smith of Smith Mullin, who is representing Carlson.
"I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you'd be good and better and I'd be good and better," Ailes allegedly told Carlson in a meeting last September, during which she tried to discuss ongoing discriminatory treatment. "Sometimes problems are easier to solve" that way, added Ailes according to the complaint.
Carlson asserts that Ailes retaliated against her and derailed her career after she reported condescending sexist behavior by her former Fox & Friends cohost Steve Doocy.
On other occasions, Ailes asked Carlson to turn around so he could view her posterior, commented repeatedly about her legs, and instructed her to wear certain outfits that he claimed enhanced her figure, according to the suit. "I'm sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to," Ailes allegedly said, while lamenting that marriage was "boring" and declaring that Carlson was the one person he would want to be stranded with on a desert island.
The suit also accuses Ailes of frequent sexually charged comments and conduct and that he called Carlson a "man hater" who tried to "show up the boys."
"I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career," Carlson said in a statement. "Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments at Fox News and for keeping our loyal viewers engaged and informed on events and news topics of the day."