Fox News chair Roger Ailes asks court to make Gretchen Carlson seek arbitrator
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes (AFP)

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes on Friday petitioned a federal court in Manhattan to compel former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him this month, to arbitrate her employment-related claims in New York City.

Carlson had sued Ailes on July 6 in New Jersey Superior Court, accusing him of sexually inappropriate conduct at various times during her 11 years at the network, culminating in her ouster last month after she said she had rebuffed his advances.

Ailes has denied Carlson's allegations, and accused Carlson of conducting a public "smear campaign" against him. Arbitration is usually a more secretive process.

A spokesman for Carlson had no immediate comment.

In Friday's petition to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Ailes maintained that Carlson's contract with Fox News required her to arbitrate employment disputes in New York City, where she worked.

Ailes also said Carlson had no legitimate reason to bring her case against him in the New Jersey court, given that he lives in New York and she alleged no violation of New Jersey law. Carlson's complaint said Ailes resided in New Jersey.

"Her attempt to game the system so as to avoid the arbitration clause for her client's baseless allegations is contrary to law and unsupported by the facts," Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Ailes, said in a statement, referring to Carlson's attorney.

Last Friday, Ailes filed a motion in the federal court in Newark, New Jersey, to compel arbitration. He is now withdrawing that motion and seeking to move the case to Manhattan.

The parent of Fox News, 21st Century Fox Inc, has expressed "full confidence" in Ailes.

Ailes is a former Republican political consultant and confidant of 21st Century Fox Executive Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch. He built Fox News over two decades into the most-watched U.S. cable news channel.The case is Ailes v. Carlson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-05671.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)