Fox’s Making Money has a Payne-ful sexual assault scandal
New York, NY – Cable giant Fox News is at the center of yet another sexual assault scandal. The news giant is accused of blacklisting a female anchor who accused prominent Making Money host, Charles Payne, of rape. According to the suit, Fox News is being sued for sexual harassment and retaliation in connection with the claims against Payne. This is just another in a long list of sexual harassment claims that Fox’s female employees have brought against the news giant. This suit clearly shows the hostile work environment and culture of misogyny that is a trademark of the media giant’s image.
Scottie Nell Hughes has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that in July 2013, Payne “pressured” his way into her hotel room and coerced her into having sex with him. According to her account, she objected to his behavior by saying “no” and “stop.” Hughes stated that she didn’t report the incident immediately because she felt “shocked and ashamed.” Hughes stated that over the next two years, she was forced to engage in a sexual relationship with Payne, and in exchange she received career opportunities, including increased appearances on Fox News and Fox Business and Payne promised to help her land a contributor contract, a gig that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During the “relationship,” Hughes was a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business but she asserted that after she ended things with Payne, the network blacklisted her, especially after she reported allegations against him. In an effort to control the story, Fox News “leaked” a story about Hughes and Payne “romantic” relationship.
Hughes’ claims echo similar allegations against the news giant. Recently, Fox News fired it most popular news anchor Bill O’Reilly, after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, one African- American anchor stated that O’Reilly had encouraged the rest of the staff to refer to her as “hot chocolate.” Many former anchors have accused Fox News of victim blaming and attempting to cover up their sexually harassing behavior.
Hughes brings her claims in Federal Court. Payne’s behavior is classic sexual harassment in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, Fox News may be liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a theory of sexual harassment that is actionable under Title VII’s anti-gender discrimination provision. Under Title VII an employer is liable for sexual harassment when a supervisor or manager predicates job benefits, such as a promotion, or increased screen time, on whether the employee acquiesces to the supervisor or manager’s request for sexual favors. A company will be held liable if an employee reports the behavior and the employer is negligent in their investigation, or, as in Ms. Hughes case, the corporation retaliates against the employee who reports the sexually harassing behavior.
Further, because Hughes brings her claims in New York City, she falls under both New York State and New York City human rights laws. Both the city and State laws mirror federal laws, but are markedly more liberal than federal laws. For example, under the New York City Human Rights Law, the sexual conduct needs to be anything more than a petty slight or trivial inconvenience, instead of the “severe and pervasive” standard of sexually harassing conduct under the Federal law.
The experienced New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating claims of sexual harassment, both federally and at the state level. We have recovered millions on behalf of our clients. If you feel you have been sexually harassed at work, please give us a call at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation to discuss your possible claim.
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