A New York Fox 5 reporter filed a discrimination lawsuit Tuesday against 21st Century, alleging former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes harassed her while she was applying for a job at the network, the New York Times reports
In the complaint, Lidia Curanaj accuses Ailes of inviting her to a “private interview” where the former chairman asked her to twirl and told her he “liked” what he saw. Following the interview, Ailes allegedly called Curanaj’s ex-boyfriend, New York State Sen. Gregory R. Ball, and asked him whether Curanaj “put out.” Once informed that she was unlikely to perform sexual favors in exchange for a job, the suit claims Ailes told Curanaj to seek employment at local Fox affiliates instead of Fox News Channel.
According to the lawsuit, Curanaj also experienced discrimination while working in the newsroom at Fox 5, where Ailes’s well-documented treatment of female employees “spread throughout Fox, permeating the work environments across departments” and perpetuating a “work culture where women are marginalized and regularly subjected to unequal treatment as compared to their similarly situated male colleagues.”
The suit names Fox5 News Director Byron Harmon as a co-defendant, charging him with unlawful discrimination and harassment, including “bias against women, pregnant women, older individuals, people of Balkan descent and individuals with illnesses.”
Harmon allegedly told Curanaj she was “not attractive enough” while elevating younger, less qualified female employees to higher ranks within the company.
At least 24 women have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination by Ailes; several accusations include charges of a concerted effort by the Fox News founder to silence his targets through a combination of intimidation and threats. Following a barrage of public claimes—prompted by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against the media company—21st Century Fox CEO Richard Murdoch forced Ailes to resign in July.
“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country,” Murdoch said in a statement. “Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.” Murdoch added Ailes helped give a “voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks.”
But according to Curanaji and other public accusers, Ailes also helped to create a top-down environment of sex-based discrimination.
“The discrimination and harassment described by Ms. Curanaj is exemplary of the conduct of many of Fox’s male managers reported by countless women over the past six months,” Curanaj’s lawyer Jeanne M. Christensen, told the Times. “We intend on holding Fox accountable for this conduct, and sending a message to employers everywhere that there are severe consequences to discriminating against female employees.”