Fox News political contributor Julie Roginsky filed suit Monday against the network, its former chairman, Roger Ailes, and the current co-President, Bill Shine, alleging gender discrimination and retaliation for her refusal to engage in a sexual relationship with Ailes, who repeatedly propositioned her and made lewd and untoward remarks during private meetings he convened with her in his office, according to the complaint obtained by Politico.
Shine and other network bosses were also aware of Ailes’ habitual practice of sexually harassing women at Fox — and retaliating against those who refused — but failed to take action, the complaint alleges.
Roginsky is seeking compensatory damages for back and future loss of wages, lost income, benefits, retirement losses, stock benefits losses, pain, suffering, stress, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional harm and personal physical injury and physical sickness, as well as damage to her reputation, damage to career path, and loss of income stemming as well as punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, pre- and post judgment interest, reimbursement for the negative tax consequences of a judgment and costs of the lawsuit and reimbursement of expert witness fees and costs.
“We look forward to a public trial in front of a jury in New York City,” Nancy Erika Smith of the Smith Mullin law firm in Montclair, New Jersey, told Variety.
1. Roginsky Immigrated to the U.S. From Russia as a Child & Has an Impressive Resume in the Political World
Born in Moscow to Russian parents, the 43-year-old Roginsky and her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1980. She attended the pricey and prestigious Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, where high school tuition costs $34,600 annually. She went on to receive Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a Master of Arts degree specializing in Russian economics, both from Boston University. And Roginsky is on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University.
Before joining Fox News, Roginsky worked at EMILY’S LIST in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine. She became Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey’s political director and campaign manager in 1996.
In 2000, Roginsky served as communications director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s coordinated campaign, which “included work on behalf of Vice President Al Gore, Senate candidate Jon S. Corzine and New Jersey’s congressional candidates,” according to Politico, white reports that when Corzine was elected, he appointed Roginsky to be his Washington communications director on Capitol Hill.
In 2002, she launched a political consulting and public relations firm specializing in media relations within the New York-New Jersey media market.
2. She Says Ailes Repeatedly Propositioned Her, but His Attorney Has Called the Allegations ‘Total Hogwash’
In the lawsuit, Roginsky claims the network and Files “discriminated against Roginsky on the basis of her gender by making her deserved promotion to a regular spot hosting “The Five” contingent upon having a sexual relationship with Ailes.”
During one-on-one meetings called by Ailes, he told her he “really liked her on ‘The Five,” the suit states.
“During these meetings, Ailes would frequently steer the conversation to Roginsky’s personal life by asking, among other things, if she was dating anyone, why she was not married, what she was looking for in a man, and remarking that he did not understand why she was still single since she was so attractive.
“During these meetings, Ailes additionally (and without irony) volunteered the advice that Roginsky should engage in sexual relationships with ‘older, married, conservative men’ because ‘they may stray but they always come back because they’re loyal.’ Ailes also remarked that he was loyal but that loyalty was a two-way street. These comments and their delivery made it clear that Ailes wanted a sexual relationship with Roginsky.
“At these meetings, Ailes usually sat in a low armchair. He repeatedly insisted on a kiss ‘hello’ requiring Roginsky to bend down to kiss him. Ailes would consistently position himself in such a way as to look down Roginsky’s dress.
“During these meetings, Ailes repeatedly made sexist comments about the other members of ‘The Five.’ For example, Ailes stated that Kimberly Guilfoyle would ‘get on her knees for anyone.’
“Ailes led Roginsky to believe that she would receive a permanent position as a host on “The Five,” stating that Beckel would not return because he was a drug addict.”
Ailes’ attorney has declined the allegations made in the lawsuit.
“Julie Roginsky’s description of meetings that she supposedly had with Roger Ailes are total hogwash. Mr Ailes vociferously denies her allegations,” Susan Estrich, Ailes’ attorney, said in a statement. “Her interactions with Mr. Ailes were not even close to the fictional version she wants people to believe now. The idea that Mr. Ailes would pressure Ms. Roginsky or any other women to have sexual relations with him is total nonsense.”
Estrich said the “copycat complaint is not about discrimination or retaliation. This is about someone who wants to pile-on in a massive character assassination in order to achieve what she did not accomplish on the merits.”
3. She’s a Single Mom to a 4-Year-Old Boy
On May 27, 2012, Roginsky gave birth to Zachary Peter Roginsky, who weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz. and measured 22 inches, according her IMDB bio.
The child’s father is a closely guarded secret. The website Live Ramp Up noted that Roginsky is “single and there is no evidence or news or even rumors of Julie getting married to anyone and who her husband is or was. Questions also came forward if she went through the process of insemination but there is no evidence of that either.
“She has not ever revealed about any of her past boyfriends. The single mother has been raising a child whose father is a mystery man to the whole world.”
4. She’s Got the same Legal Team as former Fox Anchor Gretchen Carlson
Roginsky is repped by New York lawyer Martin S. Hyman along with husband and wife Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith, the latter being responsible for helping Carlson in September win a $20 million settlement for a public apology from the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox.
21st Century stated that “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve,” Vanity Fair reported.
Citing poor ratings on “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson,” Fox fired Carlson , a Stanford and Oxford grad, in June. Carlson fought back, saying she was canned because she wouldn’t have sex with Ailes. The network quickly settled after learning Carlson had a year’s worth of secretly recorded audio of Ailes propositioning her.
“Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along,” New York Magazine reported in September. “ ‘I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to.’ ”
5. She Knew Firsthand How Refusing Ailes’ Come-Ons Would Go Down, She Claims
You can read the full complaint filed by Roginsky in New York Supreme Court above.
According to Roginsky’s lawsuit, she saw first-hand what happens when women at Fox complain about harassment. After Carlson’s filed her suit, Roginsky states that Fox News employees “including contributor and Ailes’ confidante Angela McGlowan, Executive Vice President for Programming Suzanne Scott and on-air host Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as others, sought to recruit Fox News employees and contributors to retaliate against Carlson by publicly disparaging her.”
The effort was dubbed supporting “Team Roger” and everyone was encouraged to “come out in favor of Ailes.” When Roginsky refused, and told a superior that Ailes harassed her as well, she was retaliated against, her complaint states.
“Roginsky told McGlowan that Ailes was a sexual predator and that she would not join in the smearing of Gretchen Carlson,” according to the lawsuit.
Despite making this disclosure, no one at Fox News ever investigated Rogisnky’s claims of sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit. And Shine, the co-president, didn’t acknowledge the veracity of her claims against Ailes until a meeting on Dec. 12, 2016, when an unnamed female Fox News employee began to sob when asked if she was on “Team Roger.”
“Shine falsely stated to Roginsky that this was the first moment he knew that the claims against Ailes were true,” Roginsky’s complaint states. “In truth, Shine knew or reasonably should have known long before 2016 that Ailes had been engaging in sexual predation and harassment. Shine had directly participated in a secret multi-million dollar payment to Laurie Luhn who claimed to have suffered decades of sexual abuse by Ailes.
“Years before the Gretchen Carlson case, Shine and other senior executives at Fox News should have conducted independent investigations of Ailes’ conduct and taken steps to protect women like Roginsky from his predatory and harassing practices. Instead, Shine and other senior executives kept Ailes’ conduct secret and enabled it.”