MANHATTAN (CN) – Embattled former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is once again accused of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, in a lawsuit describing him as a predator who offered a contributor a host position in exchange for sex.
The 17-page complaint filed Monday in New York County Supreme Court also accuses Fox News and network co-president Bill Shine of retaliating against plaintiff Julie Roginsky, who says she refused to disparage Gretchen Carlson in the wake of Carlson’s damning sexual harassment claims against Ailes last summer.
According to Roginsky’s lawsuit, Ailes in 2015 repeatedly summoned the then 41-year-old unmarried, on-air personality to his office for one-on-one meetings, during which he advised her to pursue sexual relationships “with older, married, conservative men because they may stray but they always come back because they’re loyal.” Ailes allegedly steered the conversations toward Roginsky’s personal and romantic life.
“At these meetings, Ailes usually sat in a low armchair. He repeatedly insisted on a kiss ‘hello’ requiring Roginsky to bend down to kiss him,” the complaint states. “Ailes would consistently position himself in such a way as to look down Roginsky’s dress.”
During the meetings, Ailes allegedly made derogatory comments about co-hosts on the roundtable show “The Five”, reportedly saying that Republican co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle would “get on her knees for anyone.”
Roginsky claims an April 27, 2015, meeting with Ailes was the turning point in their relationship.
“During this meeting, Ailes cynically toyed with Roginsky, saying that he would really like to give her a permanent spot on ‘The Five.’ Immediately after this statement, Ailes remarked that ‘if it wouldn’t get us both into so much trouble’ he would take Roginsky ‘out for a drink.’ It was clear that Ailes had sexual intentions toward Roginsky given the history of his conduct toward Roginsky and the fact that there was no reason why Roginsky and Ailes would have gotten ‘into trouble’ if they had simply conducted a professional meeting over drinks,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint continues, “Ailes followed up this comment by saying, ‘since being seen in public together would get us into trouble maybe we could just do it privately in my office instead, so no one would know.’ Roginsky responded that that was not a good idea. Ailes immediately and curtly dismissed Roginsky, and refused to meet with her ever again.”
After that meeting, Ailes gave Roginsky’s regular spot on “The Five” to Geraldo Rivera, according to the lawsuit. The spot has been typically reserved for a liberal commentator, and Rivera is a registered Republican.
“Roginksy refused to engage in a sexual relationship with Ailes. As a result, Fox News and Ailes retaliated,” the complaint states.
Roginsky first appeared on Fox News as a commentator in 2004 and was hired under contract in 2011. She first appeared on “The Five” in early 2015, replacing Bob Beckel.
The complaint claims co-defendant Shine and other Fox News senior executives enabled Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment and kept it secret.
While recommending a documentary on top-selling American rock band The Eagles to Roginsky, Shine allegedly declared that Ailes and other Fox News executives “were a gift to the nation, like The Eagles.”
The lawsuit accuses Shine of aiding and abetting, arguing that as upper-level management familiar with Ailes’ patterns of alleged harassment and retaliation, he failed to take reasonable steps to protect Roginsky and other women from sexual harassment and retaliatory adverse employment consequences.
“Years before the Gretchen Carlson case, Shine and other senior executives at Fox News should have conducted independent investigations of Ailes’ conduct and taken steps to protect women like Roginsky from his predatory and harassing practices,” the complaint states.
Roginsky seeks compensatory and punitive damages for claims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment, aiding and abetting. She is represented by Martin Hyman with Golenbock Eiseman and Neil Mullin with Smith Mullin, both based in New York City.
Representatives for Fox News, Ailes and Shine did not immediately respond to requests for comment made Monday afternoon.
Roginsky’s lawsuit comes two days after a New York Times investigation reported that five women were paid $13 million to not litigate or speak publicly about their allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ most popular show “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Last week, two black women who used to work as payroll managers at Fox’s Manhattan headquarters filed a lawsuit claiming the network suffers from “top-down racial harassment.”