Fox News and former network anchor Bill O’Reilly are being sued by a woman claiming O’Reilly defamed her and breached their settlement agreement over her prior claims of workplace mistreatment.
In the suit obtained by TheWrap, Rachel Bernstein says she was not the source of details cited in New York Times’ infamous story about O’Reilly’s and the network’s $13 million of settlement to various women in which specific details of her dispute with O’Reilly were covered.
“Fox News has been aware of complaints about inappropriate behavior by Mr. O’Reilly since at least 2002, when Mr. O’Reilly stormed into the newsroom and screamed at a young producer, according to current and former employees, some of whom witnessed the incident. Shortly thereafter, the woman, Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, left the network with a payout and bound by a confidentiality agreement, people familiar with the deal said. The exact amount she was paid is not known, but it was far less than the other settlements. The case did not involve sexual harassment.”
In addition to that, the suit cites additional comments which appeared in The Hollywood Reporter and various other outlets, which Bernstein says violated the terms of their agreement.
Bernstein also took issue with a Fox News statement claiming that no employees had ever previously raised complaints to management about O’Reilly’s behavior.
“Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”
“Ms. Bernstein repeatedly complained to Fox Human Resources, Bill Shine and other Fox executives about Mr. O’Reilly’s mistreatment both defendant Fox News network LLC and Bill O’Reilly knew that before making the statement,” the suit reads, which calls the above Fox News statement “misleading.”
Reps for Fox News were not immediately available for comment. O’Reilly, however, released the following statement to TheWrap through his lawyer.
Bill O’Reilly has never mentioned the plaintiff’s name publicly in any context. And as the original New York Times story makes clear, this was absolutely not a case of sexual harassment. So today’s lawsuit has absolutely no merit, and Mr. O’Reilly will respond aggressively in court.
A prior version of this story erroneously stated the female accuser claimed O’Reilly sexually harassed her. Her claim was, rather, workplace mistreatment by the former Fox News host.