Fox Reporter Says She Was Fired After Emailing InvestigatorBy and
Suit claims male bosses retaliated after complaint to lawyer
Jessica Golloher rejects claim firing is for budget reasons
A Fox News radio reporter claims in a lawsuit that she was fired within 24 hours of emailing the company’s independent investigator to complain about gender discrimination by two male superiors.
Jessica Golloher’s suit adds to a growing list of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints from former employees at Fox News, which have resulted in an upheaval at the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company. Roger Ailes, former president of Fox News Channel, Bill O’Reilly, the channel’s highest-rated anchor, and former co-president Bill Shine, have all left the network since the scandal broke last year.
The complaint by Golloher, the Middle East and North Africa correspondent for Fox News Radio, was filed Thursday in New York state court in Manhattan. She claims that even though her termination for “budgetary reasons" isn’t effective until August, her assignments are being given to freelancers.
“The decision to terminate Ms. Golloher can only be described as a blatant act of retaliation," her attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said in the complaint.
Wigdor is representing more than a dozen current and former Fox News staffers in racial-bias suits. On Wednesday he offered to meet with U.K.’s media regulator as it weighs 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy the rest of pay-TV provider Sky Plc, demonstrating how the scandal may impact the company’s bottom line.
“Jessica Golloher’s claims are without merit," the company said in a statement. “Her allegations of discrimination and retaliation are baseless."
Golloher also sued her superiors, Fox News Radio Vice President Mitch Davis, and a director of radio news programming, Hank Weinbloom. She reported to the men starting in 2008, when she was based in Moscow.
Golloher said she had clashed with Davis and Weinbloom for years, but her issues took on fresh urgency as claims against O’Reilly piled up, leading to a public backlash.
On April 4, two weeks before O’Reilly’s ouster, Fox sent all employees an email about the network’s desire to foster a safe workplace, according to the suit. It urged staffers who were having problems to reach out to executives or outside lawyer Michele Hirshman of Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, according to the complaint.
Golloher decided to take up Fox’s offer, emailing Hirshman later that month to say, “I’m having some issues at FOX. Is it feasible to give you a call this week? I’d really appreciate it," according to the complaint.
Less than 24 hours later, Weinbloom emailed Golloher telling her to call Davis. She did so, and that’s when she was informed of her termination.
According to a person familiar with the situation, the lawyers conducting the investigation on behalf of the company got in touch with Golloher but she never made a claim. The person asked not to be named because the matter is private. Wigdor said Golloher didn’t have the chance to make her claim to the investigators before her job was terminated.
Golloher’s reporting from 2008 to 2014 included the war in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. She later moved from Moscow to Jerusalem to cover the Middle East and North Africa. Davis and Weinbloom were her bosses throughout that time, she said.
During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Golloher’s superiors gave the lead coverage role to a London-based male reporter, Simon Owen, even though he didn’t speak Russian and wasn’t familiar with the region, according to the complaint. She said she was treated as Owen’s secretary and relegated to report on frivolous news, like “panty protests” in Russia.
The case is Golloher v. Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., New York State Supreme Court, New York County.