Fox News and four executives named in a sexual harassment lawsuit that anchor Andrea Tantaros filed on August 22 have shot back in new court papers, in which they seek arbitration and call Tantaros “not a victim” but “an opportunist.”
TheWrap has obtained the defendants’ motion to compel arbitration, which Fox News, newly named co-president Bill Shine, Dianne Brandi, Irena Briganti and Suzanne Scott filed in New York state court on Monday.
“Over the last few weeks, 21st Century Fox (Fox News’ parent company) has made clear its commitment to providing a safe and dignified workplace at Fox News: by immediately launching an investigation in which women were encouraged to report their experiences under conditions of confidentiality, and by committing to make things right with those women who were not treated with the respect that they and every employee deserve. But Tantaros is not a victim; she is an opportunist,” the defendants wrote.
Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who is a defendant in the case, is not listed among the parties seeking arbitration. The former head of Fox News resigned in disgrace last month after Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes that resulted in several women coming forward with similar claims.
Susan Estrich, the attorney representing Ailes, told TheWrap she “filed separately to address falsehoods leveled” at her client. Ailes has denied all allegations against him.
The new court document claims that Tantaros’ complaint is “filled with falsehoods” and “demonstrably wrong.” It continues, “Every claim in Tantaros’s baseless complaint is subject to the broad and unambiguous provision in her Employment Agreement governing all disputes arising out of or relating to her employment.”
In her lawsuit, Tantaros called her gig at Fox News her “dream job,” but alleged that she was “the victim of demeaning conduct, such as being instructed to wear clothes that showed off her legs, and being required to annually pick on-air clothing in the middle of a room without the benefit of even a curtain, thereby forcing her to strip down in front of Fox News wardrobe personnel.”
Earlier this month, a person with knowledge of the legal situation told TheWrap that the sexual harassment issue is a way for Tantaros to “muddy the waters when the real issue is her contract.” The issue, that person said, is that Tantaros was suspended after she promoted her book, “Tied Up in Knots,” on the air without permission, failed to submit a publishing timeline and did not provide a detailed outline of the book’s content, as required by her contract.
Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera recently dismissed Tantaros’ lawsuit against the network and Ailes as “a vindictive screed designed to damage reputations.”