The topic of sexual harassment has come up time and time again in the workplace and has now caught the attention of a case happening within the Fox News community. Two women have brought the attention of sexual harassment claims against Fox News, and in one woman’s case, rape. Jennifer Eckhart is a former associate producer at Fox Business, while Cathy Areu, who is a frequent guest on Fox News, both filed claims against Mr. Ed Henry. Henry was the co-host of America’s Newsroom on the Fox News Channel, and a veteran correspondent in general for the network. The sexual harassment claims filed suit on July 20, 2020, in a federal court of New York.
The lawsuit is backed with the support of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which is an organization founded in the rise of the #MeToo movement. They are providing PR support to Areu, who alleges she has multiple accounts of harassment in the workplace.
Fox News, however, did not initially look at this issue with positive support. They have pushed aggressively against Areu’s claims and released messages to counter her claims that appeared to contradict her initial statements against the organization.
As for Eckhart, she has claimed that Henry raped her in a hotel room in 2017. Henry has allegedly sent unsolicited and inappropriate text messages of graphic content. He is also accused of psychologically manipulating her and unwantingly coercing her to be his “sex slave.”
As a result of these claims, Henry was terminated from the Fox News network as of July 1st, 2020, not too long after Eckhart moved forward with her attorneys. Henry has denied the allegations, his reasoning being that the relationship was consensual. Fox News did not take a side on this issue.
Areu, on the other hand, accused Henry of sending graphic and unwanted messages and said that Henry ended their relationship after she refused to have sexual intercourse with him. It is to be noted that Ed Henry is not the only one of attack in these claims. Several Fox News anchors including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity have been accused of their unprofessional behavior. The claims that Areu has made against Henry are similar to what she has made against both Carlson and Hannity.
Her accounts, however, have been met with a negative response. Mediaite, which is a popular digital news site covering mainstream media, ran a story highlighting “inconsistencies” in Areu’s account. Fox News also came up with their own response claiming that Areu’s allegations are apparently false, or at least to the extent she expressed them to be. Perhaps in response, Wigdor has withdrawn as Areu’s attorney, though he still represents Eckhart. Areu has since sought out Mr. James A. Vagnini, who is now seeking to separate from Eckhart’s suit.
In a later statement, Fox News denied the claims made against Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Howard Kurtz as a whole claiming that these statements lack merit. Fox News has claimed that the allegations are baseless because they quote that “FOX News has provided more leadership opportunities for women than any other cable news network, including featuring more solo women anchors and hosts on-air and retaining a senior staff comprised of more than 50% female executives.” This is yet to be confirmed.
A sexual harassment lawyer from San Diego support that even if FOX provided leadership opportunities for women, this statement alone does not reduce the merit of claims made by both women.
For additional information on sexual harassment laws.