On July 20, 2020, Wigdor LLP filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Fox News Network, LLC (“Fox News”), former Fox News anchor Ed Henry, and current hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz.
As alleged, on July 1, 2020, three weeks before the Complaint was filed, Fox News disingenuously attempted to take credit for “doing the right thing” when it terminated anchor Ed Henry, purportedly for “sexual misconduct.” As detailed in the Complaint, Fox News did not, in fact, do the right thing. In reality, as alleged, Fox News supported and even promoted Mr. Henry despite the fact that multiple women had complained about Mr. Henry’s sexually inappropriate conduct as early as 2017. According to the Complaint, the real reason that Fox News terminated Mr. Henry is that it knew that this lawsuit was coming and wanted to “get out ahead” of it.
The Complaint alleges that Mr. Henry did not merely engage in generic “sexual misconduct” towards Ms. Eckhart or Ms. Areu. Rather, as alleged, Mr. Henry subjected Ms. Eckhart to sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. After Ms. Eckhart courageously came forward, as detailed in the Complaint, Fox News retaliated against Ms. Eckhart by, among other things, blindsiding her with Mr. Henry’s termination and issuing a completely misleading statement concerning his egregious conduct. Fox intentionally downplayed the severity of the situation by characterizing Mr. Henry’s actions as merely “sexual misconduct.” The Complaint asserts that Fox News was trying to avoid taking accountability for what actually happened; namely, that one of its most prominent on-air personalities — with a history of multiple sexual harassment complaints — sexually assaulted and raped Ms. Eckhart. This conduct on the part of Fox News is abhorrent, and, of course, has only served to greatly increase the trauma that Ms. Eckhart is experiencing as a result.
As for Ms. Areu, according to the Complaint, Mr. Henry sent her myriad wildly inappropriate, disturbing and sadistic sexual images and videos and repeatedly suggested that he would help her obtain an anchor position with Fox News if she engaged in sexual acts with him. In addition, Ms. Areu was sexually harassed by multiple other men at Fox News, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell. The details of those acts are laid out in the Complaint, including a photograph that captures the image of a stack of cash on set that Mr. Hannity offered to his male staff, auctioning off Ms. Areu to anyone in the studio was “man enough” to take her on a date after work. Ms. Areu stated that she was hooked up to the studio equipment, to go on air live, and could not even walk away during the “auctioning.”
BREAKING: #EdHenry raped a former Fox News employee & sent sexually graphic texts to another, a lawsuit we filed today against Fox News alleges.
Fox News was aware of other complaints against Henry for years & downplayed it when his termination was announced on 7/1, as alleged.
— WigdorLaw (@WigdorLaw) July 20, 2020
Statement from Douglas H. Wigdor and Michael J. Willemin:
“What this lawsuit reveals is that today’s Fox News is the same old Fox News. Some of the names in leadership may have changed since Roger Ailes’ regime, but Fox News’ institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not. How many more women will have to be victimized before Fox News finally takes sexual harassment and workplace sexual assault seriously? We expect Fox News to claim — as it almost always does — that an ‘independent’ investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing. Of course, Fox News will have paid the investigator, who also happens to be a management-side employment lawyer. In other words, a significant part of this ‘investigator’s’ time is spent defending companies like Fox News against allegations such as the ones brought herein. Moreover, the investigator did not even speak with either of our clients, even though both Ms. Eckhart and Ms. Areu offered to meet with him under reasonable conditions. We call on Fox News to work with our clients to retain a truly independent investigator who is transparent. The results of any such investigation should be made public for the world to see.”
CBS This Morning
July 21, 2020
CNN’s New Day
July 21, 2020
“Fox News anchor Ed Henry is accused of ‘handcuffing and raping’ an employee in a NYC hotel room in bombshell lawsuit – which also accuses Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity of sexual harassment”
July 20, 2020