A woman who settled a sexual harassment complaint against former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly alleges in a new suit that he and the network breached their nondisparagement and confidentiality agreements after she was outed in a New York Times story about claims against O'Reilly.
Bernstein alleges that O'Reilly had defended the payouts in the New York Times and other publications by portraying her as a "liar and politically motivated extortionist".
Bernstein says O'Reilly's statement is false, claiming she repeatedly complained to HR and various Fox execs.
O'Reilly was forced out of Fox News in April following a series of revelations about alleged sexual harassment and abuse.
Once a junior producer at Fox News and now working at Conan O'Brien's production company, Bernstein is suing for breach of contract and defamation.
Reps for Fox News and Bill O'Reilly were not immediately available for comment. Her claim was, rather, workplace mistreatment by the former Fox News host. She did go to HR and other company executives to complain about him several times. Both O'Reilly and Fox said that a hotline was in place to anonymously report complaints and that no one had ever called it to complain about O'Reilly.
Mullin said O'Reilly's comments violated the 2002 agreement and illustrate a broader issue, in which powerful men who are exposed as harassers attempt to discredit their victims.
A lawyer for Ms. Bernstein, Neil Mullin, asked that O'Reilly and Fox release all victims from their non-disclosure agreements in order to "let the truth out". While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O'Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. "It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence". "In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein's complaints about him were far from extortionate".
Bernstein's suit claims emotional distress as well as reputational and financial harm. "Fox News breached its contract with plaintiff by allowing and authorizing its employee Bill O'Reilly to disparage and defame Ms. Bernstein and to make statements other than those to which the parties agreed". "The statement by Fox News also violated the Confidentiality Clause in the Agreement".
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