Gretchen Carlson, the longtime Fox News anchor, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday saying that Roger Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News, fired her from the network last month after she refused his sexual advances and complained to him about discriminatory treatment in the newsroom, reports The New York Times..
The nature of Ms. Carlson’s allegations immediately transfixed the world of television news, where Mr. Ailes is a hugely influential figure known for demanding absolute loyalty from his employees.
A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit — filed in Superior Court in New Jersey, where Mr. Ailes maintains a residence — portrays the Fox chairman as a serial sexual harasser, charging that he ogled Ms. Carlson in his office, called her “sexy” and frequently made sexually charged comments about her physical appearance.
Ms. Carlson, who joined Fox in 2005, charges that during a meeting last fall to discuss her concerns about what she considered ill treatment, Mr. Ailes told her: “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.”
When she refused, the lawsuit claims, Mr. Ailes retaliated by reducing Ms. Carlson’s salary, curtailing her on-air appearances and, ultimately, declining to renew her contract last month.
The suit, filed by the law firm Smith Mullin in Montclair, N.J., seeks a variety of compensatory damages. Its allegations are sure to roil the ranks of Fox News, with Ms. Carlson describing a boys’ club environment that goes beyond Mr. Ailes.
Ms. Carlson contends that in 2009 she complained to the network that her co-host on the popular “Fox & Friends” morning show, Steve Doocy, had engaged in what she describes as “severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” including mocking her during commercial breaks and pulling down her arm during a live broadcast.
Mr. Ailes, the lawsuit states, responded by calling Ms. Carlson a “man hater” and saying “she needed to learn to ‘get along with the boys.’” Ms. Carlson claims that Mr. Ailes eventually reassigned her from “Fox & Friends,” in 2013, because of her complaints.
Until last month, Ms. Carlson was hosting a 2 p.m. news program, “The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson,” on the network. The show consistently won its time slot, averaging 1.1 million viewers in recent months.
From April to June, Ms. Carlson’s show was the 24th-highest-rated cable news show in the closely tracked demographic of viewers 25 to 54 years old.