Labor, Employment and Benefits Partner Quoted in Bloomberg BNA Article Discussing Fox News Sexual Harassment Retaliation Lawsuit

July 15, 2016

Wiggin and Dana Labor, Employment and Benefits Partner Lawrence Peikes was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA article, "Can Fox News Host Elude Arbitration by Personally Suing CEO?"

The article discusses the sexual harassment retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.

Ms. Carlson's lawsuit alleged that Mr. Ailes reassigned her to a less prestigious time slot and reduced her compensation after she complained about co-host Steve Doocy's inappropriate conduct.

On July 8, Mr. Ailes moved to compel arbitration under the terms of Ms. Carlson's employment contract with Fox, which requires her to arbitrate any dispute "arising out of or relating to" her employment.

"Arbitration is a creature of contract," said Mr. Peikes. "You can't circumvent the agreement by just suing an individual who is a senior level executive within the company."

Mr. Peikes is not involved in the case but he represents management in New York City.

Mr. Peikes said Ms. Carlson may have filed her claim under the city law because it allows managers and executives to be sued as individuals. Federal discrimination law requires a worker to sue the company, he said.

"The city law also allows her to go directly to court, unlike Title VII, which would require her to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first," Mr. Peikes said.

According to the article, a recent amendment to the Human Rights Law provides it should be "construed liberally for the accomplishment of the uniquely broad and remedial purposes."

Mr. Peikes said these "unclear and not helpful terms" give an "overriding feeling" to attorneys who practice in New York City that courts will interpret the statute to be "more employee or plaintiff friendly in some way, shape or form."

To read the full article, please click here.