Fox News contributor Britt McHenry has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network and her former co-host Tyrus.
McHenry, 33, currently co-hosts UN-PC on streaming service FOX Nation. She filed a suit on Tuesday alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation, according to multiple reports.
“The last thing I wanted to do was file this lawsuit. But I had to stand up for what’s right for myself and for women,” McHenry, who joined Fox News as a contributor in 2018, said in a statement Tuesday.
According to the complaint, which was filed by attorney Lisa Bloom, McHenry claims the network sought to punish her after she accused her former UN-PC co-host Tyrus (whose birth name is George Murdoch) of sexually harassing her and sending her sexually charged text messages, Vanity Fair reports.
The suit also names Fox Entertainment Group, Fox Corp, News Corp, John Finley (executive vice president of development), Jennifer Rauchet (Fox Nation and Fox executive producer) and Monica Mekeel (senior vice president of human resources).
“Britt McHenry’s bombshell story should not be happening at Fox News in 2019. I am proud to represent her as she demands justice,” Bloom said in a statement.
In response to McHenry’s suit, a Fox News spokesperson said Tuesday, “Ms. McHenry’s lawsuit recycles the same allegations she filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights in October, to which we filed a response on Friday. As we have previously stated, Ms. McHenry’s allegations have been fully investigated and we are confident our actions will be deemed entirely appropriate in litigation. We expect all of her claims to be dismissed.”
McHenry reportedly accused Tyrus of sexual harassment earlier this year, and the Fox News spokesperson said those claims were cleared by the network.
“While we are not at liberty to discuss the details of any employee matter, we follow strict protocols when matters such as these are brought to our attention, and we make no exceptions. The process works because of the extensive systems and measures we have instituted. This situation was independently investigated and we consider the matter resolved. We respect the confidentiality of all involved,” Fox News said in a statement obtained by The Wrap in June.
Tyrus has since left UN-PC and currently hosts Nuff Said on Fox Nation.
McHenry filed a complaint with New York State’s Division of Human Rights earlier this fall, according to THR. She now claims in the lawsuit that the network responded to her complaints against Tyrus by “refusing to investigate some of her claims, shunning her, shutting her out of company events, and refusing to allow her on Fox News Channel shows. … When Ms. McHenry complained to Fox News Human Resources and management, Fox News asked what Ms. McHenry did to provoke her harasser,” THR reports.
“As a result of her treatment by Defendants, Ms. McHenry has suffered humiliation, emotional anguish, derailment of her career, and significant loss of economic opportunities,” the suit alleges, according to THR. “Since her sexual harassment complaint, Ms. McHenry has been effectively frozen out by Fox News management. In the past, Fox News managers and executives would check in with Ms. McHenry or stop in to watch her show, but she has not heard from any of them since making her sexual harassment complaint.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, Tom Clare, an attorney representing Tyrus, said, “Tyrus denies the allegations in the lawsuit and will be defending it vigorously. He looks forward to having a public forum in the court system to clear his name from the smear campaign that had been waged against him in the media. Tyrus will be pursuing defamation counterclaims.”
The December suit comes just days before the release of Bombshell, which tracks the fall of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes after former hosts Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment.
Bombshell — which stars Charlize Theron as Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Margot Robbie as a fictional Fox News employee and John Lithgow as Ailes — chronicles the Fox News women and their allegations against Ailes.
In her 2016 memoir Settle for More, Kelly detailed the sexual harassment she said she endured while working for Ailes. He was accused of similar behavior by numerous women at Fox News, which he vehemently denied until his death in May 2017.
After the release of the upcoming film’s first trailer, Carlson told Entertainment Weekly that “it’s a strange and frustrating reality that I can’t partake in any of these projects based on my settlement, which is why I’m working so hard on Capitol Hill so that nobody else has to be handcuffed anymore.”
“I’m trying to pass the bill to take the muzzle off of women who face harassment in the workplace so that they’re not forced into signing NDAs and have to go to the secret chamber of arbitration where nobody ever knows what the hell happened to them. It’s frustrating cause I can say, ‘Hey wait a minute, you know, that was my life!’ ” Carlson told the outlet.
She added that projects like these can make long-lasting change.
“But the trailer got a tremendous amount of attention and for me, that’s what this is all about. In the end, I can’t participate, but it’s all about continuing the dialogue. And if projects like this and the Showtime miniseries keeps people in our society talking about this issue, then that is amazing,” she said.
“And most importantly, if it gives courage to men and women who are facing these kinds of situations to come forward, then that’s the extra bonus. I really feel like nobody would have done these movies three years ago when I jumped off the cliff all by myself in July of 2016. The idea now that Naomi and Nicole have been portraying my character is surreal,” she said.
On Tuesday, Carlson called out the network over McHenry’s suit.
“1) Fox News wants people to believe it has cleaned up its act and is now at the forefront of anti-harassment compliance, but the allegations made by @BrittMcHenry via @dianafalzone & @VanityFair tells quite a different story,” she tweeted.
“2) If @foxnews has really turned the corner, this kind of alleged outrageous behavior wouldn’t still be happening. Fox should also release all women from NDAs they were forced to sign to receive settlements. Only then will there be full transparency and truth. #liftourvoices,” she continued.
Bombshell is in theaters Dec. 13.