In a lawsuit filed this week, the EEOC says during 2007 Catherine Herridge made several complaints to management officials at Fox News about employment practices that she believed were discriminatory. Fox conducted an investigation into Herridge’s allegations beginning around December 2007, but notified Herridge that no evidence of age and sex discrimination had been found.
According to an EEOC news release, around the summer or fall of 2008, Fox News included language in Herridge’s employment contract, which was set for renewal, which referenced Herridge’s discrimination complaints and was intended to stop Herridge from making more of them in the future. Herridge refused to sign the employment contract until the language was removed, and Fox refused to negotiate further with Herridge, would not respond to counteroffers as to substantive issues in the proposed contract, and ceased speaking to her agent or to her about her contract.
As a result of Fox’s refusal to proceed with a new employment contract absent the retaliatory language, Herridge became an “at-will” employee without any job protections, causing her considerable stress, the EEOC alleged. It was only after Herridge filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, and an EEOC investigator conducted an on-site investigation, that Fox agreed to take out the retaliatory language and presented Herridge with a new contract with the retaliatory language removed, which she signed.The lawsuit seeks monetary relief for Herridge, including compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction enjoining Fox News from engaging in further retaliation against employees based on their opposition to employment practices which the employee reasonably believes to be unlawful under the federal statutes enforced by the EEOC.
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