Ex-Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, whose wildly successful sexual harassment case against Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes made her a famous face on the #MeToo map, testified Thursday before a House Subcommittee.
Carlson’s 2016 lawsuit reeled in $20 million and an apology from Fox News’ then-parent company 21st Century Fox. She was on Capitol Hill to push a bill that would give workplace harassment victims the right to sue their employers instead of being forced to arbitrate in secrecy. She makes it clear that this is for women and men.
Even Carlson is astonished by the prominence her experience has brought her.
“On July 6, 2016, my story about sexual harassment and Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes became public,” she said in a prepared statement before the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. “And it ran like wild fire on twitter feeds and breaking news alerts all around the world. Back then, I could have never known I would become one of the prominent faces fighting against forced arbitration, or that in the 2 1/2 years since my case, a tidal wave would have joined me in courageously speaking out against workplace harassment.” (RELATED: Gretchen Carlson Parlays Sexual Harassment Fame Into Book #2)
Carlson said her first step was to come clean. The second is to change the way sexual harassment plays out in the workplace. Among her accusations, Carlson recorded Ailes making sexually suggestive remarks on her phone. To be sure, her journey has included drama and people who doubted her story. (RELATED: Posters Around Atlantic City Lampoon Gretchen Carlson)
“I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Ailes famously said in a story reported by then-New York Mag reporter Gabriel Sherman.
Ailes, who died in the spring of 2017 after being ousted from the network a year earlier, consistently denied all allegations against him.
Carlson has since taken her expertise on sexual harassment to Capitol Hill lawmakers.
“I spent much of 2017 and 2018 walking the halls of Congress encouraging legislators to take real, meaningful action to help workplace harassment victims,” she continued.
Carlson is strongly backing the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act,” which was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in February.
The bill gives harassment victims the right to a jury trial “instead of the secrecy of forced arbitration.”
Carlson tweeted about her hopes Thursday, saying, “In DC preparing to testify before the House against forced arbitration in harassment cases! My hope: that both parties see women & men should be able to say what happened to them in an open court and not be silenced in a secret chamber.”