Gretchen Carlson says her TV contract trapped her at Fox News: “It is a huge problem"

Carlson will testify to Congress on the issue

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 21, 2016 6:22PM (EDT)

Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson   (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Richard Drew)
Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson (Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Richard Drew)

While the story former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ tenure as the head of the biggest cable news channel and ousting following allegations of sexual harassment is reportedly being turned into a television miniseries, Gretchen Carlson is set to testify before Congress about her difficulties leaving the conservative media giant.   

In a Time magazine profile published Friday, the former “Real Story” host revealed that she will testify about her experience and the forced arbitration that made it difficult to seek justice against Ailes.

Fox News initially tried to force the Carlson's sexual harassment suit against Ailes into arbitration, a common TV contract clause that legally binds parties to settle resolutions outside of the court system, but after Carlson went public with her claims the network settled with her for $20 million.

While Carlson didn't say anything about Ailes or her settlement, she did explain why her legal team decided not to include Fox News as a defendant.

"A lot of people that I’ve heard from [about being unfairly dismissed] find themselves in the middle of either legal action or, more likely, forced arbitration,” Carlson told Time. “It is a huge problem. Because it’s secret. And it plays into why we think that we’ve come so far in society and we probably really haven’t — because we don’t hear about it.”

When Carlson filed her suit against Ailes, his lawyers argued that she had "no legal basis upon which she can rightfully assert that she was entitled to sue Defendant Ailes in court and sully his reputation in public."

At the invitation of Democratic Sens. Al Franken (Minnesota) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Carlson will testify on behalf of their anti-forced-arbitration bill. From Time:  

Carlson hopes to persuade Congress to take another look at the laws that protect the practice. She says she’s also going to think really hard about “what we need to do to change the system so that women feel safe.” She is not convinced that human-resources departments are capable of effectively dealing with sexual harassment, or that the millions of dollars corporations spend on training courses is making any difference.

“I think this is happening every single day to women in all walks of life and in all different types of corporations,” Carlson, a former Miss America, said in the interview. “I’ve heard from so many women, from Wall Street to a tiny little town in Alabama. It’s everywhere.”

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros was reportedly also recently forced into arbitration after she also alleged she was sexually harassed by Ailes.

“We need to do to change the system so that women feel safe,” Carlson told Time.

"I am saddened by the prevalence of powerful men disrespecting and objectifying women — and getting away with it for years," Carlson said of GOP nominee Donald Trump, who Ailes reportedly helped with debate prep. "I am particularly distressed when people in the public eye who influence our culture perpetuate sexism."

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Congress Forced Arbitration Fox News Gretchen Carlson Roger Ailes