Former Fox News hosts demand to be released from non-disclosure agreements

National News

Julie Roginsky and Gretchen Carlson (CBS News)

NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — Former Fox News employees are demanding to be released immediately from non-disclosure agreements over sexual harassment claims.

Gretchen Carlson and Julie Roginsky are among six former employees reportedly pushing to share their stories publicly. The signed agreements, also known as NDAs, often trade silence for money.

NBC News released former employees from their NDAs last week, which inspired the push at Fox News. In the wake of the Me Too movement, women are calling them unfair silencers that sweep sexual misconduct claims under the rug.

CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan asked the women why they’re pushing for this now.

“Because I think this is the latest phase in the revolution. We’ve made so much progress over the last three years,” Carlson said.

“We want to speak for ourselves. We had a voice for a very long time,” Roginsky said.

Carlson and Roginsky aren’t allowed to talk publicly about alleged sexual harassment working at Fox News.

“The way in which we continue to subjugate women and keep them down is through NDA’s and silencing them. It’s really a harasser’s best friend,” Carlson said.

But now they said they’re tired of being silent.

“I want to do it for the thousands of women in our country who maybe don’t have the national platform to speak out,” Carlson said.

Carlson was the first of numerous women silenced after settling lawsuits against Fox News and its then-president, Roger Ailes, for claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. Ailes died in 2017.

“Some would say a company didn’t make you sign a settlement. What do you say to that?” Duncan asked.

“I say that that’s the way we have decided as a culture to resolve sexual harassment cases and it’s wrong,” Carlson said.

In a lawsuit, Carlson alleged Ailes “sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances.” She was fired in 2016.

Roginsky said Ailes and Fox News denied her a regular spot hosting “The Five” after she refused to have a sexual relationship with the former network chief.

“You all were awarded money, compensated financially – you can’t even say that?” Duncan asked.

“No,” Carlson said, shaking her head.

The women also aren’t allowed to discuss the way they’re being portrayed in recent movies. Carlson is played by Nicole Kidman in the movie, “Bombshell,” which tells the story about the takedown of Ailes.

“We would’ve liked to have been able to tell our sides of the story, so that’s strange and frustrating,” Carlson said.

“If Fox is not going to release these women from their NDAs, are they going to go public anyway? Well, if they do, they know what the consequences are, and they are big in terms of dollars,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said.

Roginsky said she doesn’t know what the consequences would be if she spoke out, and “I don’t want to find out,” she said.

“The onus shouldn’t be on us to try and find out. The onus should be on the companies to release us. This is not an issue that’s only emblematic of one industry or one political persuasion, its emblematic of an entire culture and a society that tells women that they need to keep quiet… and that has to end,” Roginsky said.

Fox News had no comment about releasing people from NDA agreements. Many companies, including CBS, have used non-disclosure agreements. When we asked CBS about its use of them, the network said it previously released people from confidentiality provisions in order to allow them to speak with investigators.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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