Fox’s Ailes asks NY court to compel ex-anchor Carlson to arbitrate
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes on Friday petitioned a federal court in Manhattan to compel former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him this month, to arbitrate her employment-related claims in New York City.
Carlson had sued Ailes on July 6 in New Jersey Superior Court, accusing him of sexually inappropriate conduct at various times during her 11 years at the network. Carlson was dismissed from Fox News last month after saying she had rebuffed his advances.
Ailes has denied Carlson’s allegations, and accused Carlson of conducting a public “smear campaign” against him.
On July 8, Ailes had filed a motion in the federal court in Newark, New Jersey to compel arbitration and he filed on Friday to withdraw that motion and move the case to Manhattan.
Ailes “is attempting to judge shop,” Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer for Carlson, said in a statement. “We feel confident that the law will not allow such maneuvering.”
Carlson, meanwhile, on Friday asked the Newark federal court to let her pursue her lawsuit, saying the “plain and unambiguous” language in her employment contract allows her to sue Ailes “in a court rather than a secret arbitration.”
Ailes said the contract required Carlson to arbitrate in New York City, where she worked.
He also said Carlson had no legitimate reason to sue in the New Jersey state court, given that he lives in New York and she alleged no violation of New Jersey law but Carlson’s complaint said Ailes resided in New Jersey.
“Her attempt to game the system so as to avoid the arbitration clause for her client’s baseless allegations is contrary to law and unsupported by the facts,” Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Ailes, said in a statement, referring to Carlson’s lawyer.
The parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox Inc, has expressed “full confidence” in Ailes.
Ailes is a former Republican party political consultant and confidant of 21st Century Fox Executive Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch. He built Fox News over two decades into the most-watched U.S. cable news channel.The federal cases are Ailes v. Carlson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-05671; and Carlson v. Ailes, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 16-04138.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)