MANHATTAN (CN) — The list of women accusing former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of harassment grew longer and more sordid on Tuesday, with fresh allegations from a reporter who says he made her “twirl around him” at an interview.
“Ailes leered at her and commented, ‘I like what I see,’” the new lawsuit claims.
Professionally known as Lidia Curanaj, Lydia Ujkic says that this interview occurred during a dinner she attended with New York State Senator Gregory Ball in February 2011.
At the time, Curanaj had not yet received her general assignment reporter position with Fox 5, the local New York network.
Since that time, Megyn Kelly also accused Ailes of promising career advancement in exchange for sexual favors.
The newest lawsuit details the stories of lesser-known staffers such as the network’s former booker Laurie Luhn, communications consultant Kellie Boyle, correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar and others.
The problem may have emanated from the top of the newsroom, but Curanaj said it did not end there.
“Unsurprisingly, the top-down harassment spread throughout Fox, permeating the work environment across departments and affecting women employees,” she said.
Much of her lawsuit accuses her news director Byron Harmon of discriminating against her for her age, looks, gender and national origin.
Harmon told Curanaj, who is over 40, that she was “too old” to be an anchor and compared her to a “Midwestern soccer mom.”
Although Curanaj is from Montenegro, Harmon called her “Ms. Albania,” and told her “all Albanians are doormen or criminals,” according to the 28-page lawsuit.
“Despite Harmon’s opinion of her looks, Ms. Curanaj was attractive enough for Ailes to give her a ‘private interview’ during which he had her stand up and twirl around for him,” the complaint states. “Ailes ‘liked’ what he saw. During this interview, Ailes explained that FNC’s [Fox News Network’s] ‘recipe for success’ is to make sure that the women on FNC are shown ‘from the feet up,’ meaning that their legs would be visible to the television audience. Ailes stated that, for this reason, it is ‘important [for female talent] to look good from head to toe.’”
During the same interview, Ailes launched into a “tirade” about President Barack Obama, insisting that the commander in chief was a secret Muslim with “ulterior motives” and was “working with the terrorists,” Curanaj claims.
Named as defendants to the federal complaint in Manhattan are 21st Century Fox, Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Television Stations, and Harmon, the news director. Alleging 14 counts of discrimination, Curanaj seeks punitive damages. She is represented by Wigdor attorney Jeanne Christensen.
A representative for Fox said Curanaj has no case. “We do not think the plaintiff’s claims have merit, and we intend to defend vigorously,” the unnamed representative said in an email.
Compounding Fox’s legal woes, two make-up artists also sued the network Tuesday in a New York Supreme Court lawsuit alleging that their supervisors called them “bitches” and “overpaid drama queens.”
Hilda Correa-Lapolla and Maureen Walsh both say they worked for Fox for more than a decade before being fired for complaining about the network’s “locker room” climate. They claim the example of Fox’s top brass set the stage for their treatment.
“This hostile environment was created and condoned, at the very highest level, by former President of Fox News, Roger Ailes, and advanced by other Fox News executives throughout the organization,” the 16-page complaint states.
Correa-Lapolla and Walsh seek unspecified damages for five counts of discrimination and retaliation.
They are represented by Milo Silberstein of the New York City firm Dealy Silberstein & Braverman.