Carlson came forward in 2016 with allegations of sexual misconduct against then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and says non-disclosure agreements should not be used “to protect predatory behavior.”
Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson is calling for Fox News to follow NBC’s lead and release her from a non-disclosure agreement she signed as part of a settlement after her bombshell allegations after former CEO Roger Ailes in 2016.
"‘Winning’ my complaint with a settlement and a non-disclosure agreement meant I was, essentially, forced into silence," Carlson wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times.
This piece came two days after Carlson kicked off a non-profit advocacy group, Lift Our Voices, with former Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky to tackle just this issue by banning NDAs from the workplace to enable survivors to speak out.
"NDAs were originally designed to safeguard the sharing of proprietary corporate information (think the formula for Coca-Cola)," she wrote. "Not to protect predatory behavior."
She noted that when she first came forward with her allegations, "there were no #MeToo or Times Up movements to help rally support for my cause." But that was soon to follow, with many women coming forward across Hollywood and beyond, leading to the firing of several prominent men including Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose.
Ailes resigned as CEO of Fox News in July 2016 after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced from multiple women, including Megyn Kelly who detailed her allegations in her book. He denied all allegations, but was nevertheless urged to resign or face firing by owner Rupert Murdoch. He continued on as an adviser until his death the following year.
Carlson now says that as a result of the conclusion of her lawsuit against Ailes and the network, she’s been disallowed from any involvement in either the upcoming film "Bombshell" or the Showtime TV series about the alleged culture of sexual harassment at Fox News.
"Had I known my complaint would help ignite such a profound cultural shift and that I would be depicted onscreen, I would have also fought against signing the non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, that prevented me from discussing my experiences while working at Fox News," Carlson wrote.
She said she was just seeking to "bring closure" to an ugly chapter in her life, and felt then that "receiving a public apology from 21st Century Fox and retaining the right to speak about harassment generally felt like big wins."
She now says her victory left her "forced into silence."
She also countered the argument that she chose to take money in exchange for her silence, so what’s the problem? "Settlements are made not just in exchange for secrecy, but to make up for lost wages, because once you find the courage to come forward, your ‘reward’ is often that you’ve lost your job (and potentially your career)," she said, noting that many women who come forward never work in that same field again.
Finally, she noted that "NDAs foster a culture that gives predators cover to commit the same crimes again," pointing out that she is not the only voice silenced at Fox News due to NDAs. And all of those women are not allowed to be involved in any way with projects and reports about the experiences that happened to them.
"I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs," citing the positive momentum started when NBC announced it was releasing former employees from their NDAs. "This is the next phase in the #MeToo movement, and it is one that needs to gain traction if we truly want to change the culture for better."
Calling on Fox News to release her and other former employees "immediately" from their NDAs, Carlson wrote, "None of us expected or wanted a workplace dispute — we were simply the ones who had the ability and the courage to speak up, and for that, we lost our jobs.
"We have a right to say what is factually correct or incorrect about what happened. We have a right to our voices and our truths."
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