A Fox News reporter who has filed a federal claim of retaliation for an age and gender discrimination suit against Fox contends that CEO Roger Ailes sought to silence her in 2008 with a staff-wide e-mail urging employees not to complain.
In a declaration filed Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Catherine Herridge cited an e-mail sent by Ailes on Feb. 8, 2008, to employees that hinted complaining staffers were free to work elsewhere.
The portion of the Ailes' e-mail cited in the court filing:
...The best things about those days [the early days of Fox] were the...lack of complaints...But today I sometimes hear too much selfish complaining, petty whining, and a desire to have what someone else has... As I have always said, negative people make positive people sick...you should note that there are no locks on the outside of the doors keeping us here. I would never want to hold anyone back. I decided many years ago that I did not ever want to work with unhappy people because life is too short and the first 100 years in the ground is just the beginning...If you are happy, your work experience will be fulfilling and your colleagues will like you. If you are not happy, your fellow employees will avoid you... . Some people actually find it easier to achieve success than to handle it well once they have it.
The declaration was part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's formal response to a Nov. 4 Fox motion to dismiss the case.
The original lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of Herridge was filed Sept. 16.
The initial complaint stemmed from Herridge's claim that Fox officials retaliated against her for filing internal complaints against Fox for alleged age and gender discrimination back in 2006.
In her latest declaration, which appears to tie Ailes' e-mail to the internal investigation, Herridge states that after claiming she was losing assignments and potential anchor slots because of her age (43) and her gender she was the subject of retaliation.
Her declaration states, in part:
Beginning in or around December 2007, Senior VP [Dianne] Brandi began an internal investigation on behalf of Fox, into the allegations of discrimination that I made.
Around January 15, 2008, I restated my age and sex discrimination complaint to Ms. Brandi. Ms. Brandi told me that if I did not like how things were going that I was free to go (sic) the EEOC. Later, around February 7, 2008, I e-mailed Ms. Brandi and questioned her about her investigation and expressed concerns that Ms. Brandi's investigation was neither thorough nor impartial. Ms. Brandi had informed me that she had promised to keep CEO Ailes fully informed about her investigation into my discrimination complaint. The next day, February 8, 2008, CEO Ailes sent a company-wide email (the email was sent to the entire company, not just the D.C. Bureau).
Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.
Herridge adds in her declaration:
I received the email and felt that it was in direct response to my continued complaints of age and sex discrimination. I also believed that it was meant to silence me. However, I did not confront CEO Ailes about the e-mail to confirm my suspicion because I was intimidated by the e-mail and since Ms. Brandi had previously instructed me not to contact CEO Ailes directly regarding my complaint or the investigation.
She stated in the filing that Brandi later notified her on March 17, 2008, that Fox had found no evidence of discrimination.