Lawyers for fired Fox News host Gretchen Carlson accused network chief Roger Ailes of “illegal and inappropriate judge shopping” in a court brief filed Friday in response to Ailes’ trying to force Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit into secret arbitration.
Ailes’ attorneys filed a motion on Friday seeking to move the lawsuit to federal court in Manhattan and push the suit, which details explosive allegations of retaliation and harassment against Ailes, into closed door arbitration, citing a provision of her contract with the network.
But Carlson’s attorneys countered that Carlson’s contract was with Fox News, not Ailes. They argued the CEO therefore cannot benefit from the strict arbitration clause and the case should proceed in public.
Ailes, the only defendant named in Carlson’s suit, was not mentioned in and did not sign her contract, the attorneys said.
Nancy Smith, one of Carlson’s attorneys, charged that Ailes “decided that he doesn’t like the judge assigned to this case” in court in Bergen County, New Jersey and was hunting for a more sympathetic judge in New York.
In a statement provided to TPM, Susan Estrich, an attorney for Ailes, accused Carlson’s lawyers of a “converted smear campaign.”
“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,” Estrich said.
A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement the allegations of Ailes’ “judge shopping” are the “latest false statement she has made.”
In the lawsuit, Carlson alleged Ailes carried out years of retaliation and harassment because she repeatedly rebuffed his sexual advances.
Read the full brief from Carlson’s legal team below:
This story has been updated.