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Fox News Agrees to Forgo Mandatory Arbitration in NYC HRC Settlement

Mark A Kantor

Fox News Agrees to Forgo Mandatory Arbitration in NYC HRC Settlement
Orbon Alija via Getty Images

On June 29, 2021, the New York City Human Rights Commission (NYC HRC) and Fox News announced a settlement of NYC HRC claims against Fox News relating to sexual harassment and other abusive practices.

As part of that settlement, in addition to paying a $1 million fine and taking other remedial steps, Fox News agreed to forego mandatory arbitration with any employee, contributor, or on-air personality of allegations of breach of the New York City Human Rights Law for the next four years, including the kinds of sexual harassment complaints that triggered the NYC HRC investigation.  

The NYC HRC press release explains:

Under this agreement, for a period of four years, Fox News must allow any employee, contributor, or on-air personality to file any claim brought under the NYC Human Rights Law in court or administratively, exempting such claims from the mandatory arbitration provision in Fox News employment contracts. This widely criticized practice is often the most significant barrier to determining whether a workplace has a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and prevents victims from seeking relief in other legal venues such as civil or district court. In New York City, the statute of limitations for reporting sexual harassment in employment is three years from the date of the last discriminatory act. 

This settlement agreement illustrates that opposition to mandatory arbitration of sexual harassment claims and other allegations of abusive conduct towards employees, and the related ability to keep proceedings confidential, is a mainstream concern.