Non-disclosure settlements rear ugly head at Fox

These agreements impose silence on sexual harassment victims to protect the company, but this fosters the perception that they are really cover-ups.

Source: Secrecy of Settlements at Fox News Hid Bad Behavior – The New York Times

That’s the whole moral quandary embedded in settlements with non-disclosure clauses.

An incisive paragraph from the James B. Stewart NYT article:

“A lot of men have gotten away with sexual harassment with absolutely no consequences,” said Catharine A. MacKinnon, a professor of law at the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School who pioneered sexual harassment lawsuits. No matter what companies say, she added, “the real rule is that the more powerful a man is, the more he gets away with.”

They offer you money–quite a lot of money, in the Fox cases. Presumably “quite a lot of money,” but among the non-disclosure items in that clause is certainly one that says, “You don’t tell anyone what we paid to shut you up.” You need the money, perhaps desperately, so you take it. It is a bribe, indeed, to keep your mouth closed.

In the linked Times article by James B. Stewart, Fox paid that money for several reasons–one of which was…

The bottom line? Neither Mr. Ailes nor any other Fox News executive suffered any consequences before Ms. Carlson’s lawsuit and the subsequent investigation. The previous victims who filed complaints left the company, their careers in ruins, and in return for money, signed agreements that muzzled them. [My bolding]

If your career has been ruined, you do want to collect enough money to survive without one.

I’ve got a big question I don’t think anyone has asked yet: Fox paid Roger Ailes $40 million to get rid of him. (Comment: a rather big settlement, don’t you think, even though there’s no indication his career has been ruined. Indeed, he’s now become an adviser to our future president Donald Trump.)

Did Fox indemnify Ailes–and his $40 mil–from personal damages he might have to fork over to Gretchen Carlson, et al? Did Fox agree to take on the full financial burden of upcoming settlements, or did they pay Ailes all those bucks because he, too, will have to pay to settle these harassment claims?

I suppose we’ll never really know. Ailes undoubtedly signed a settlement agreement with a multi-page non-disclosure clause.

 

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