Fox News fires producer who sued network over ‘coercive’ Dominion testimony and ‘toxic’ workplace
A woman who filed a pair of lawsuits accusing her employer Fox News of fostering a sexist work environment and pressuring her into giving false testimony in a defamation case was fired by the network in retaliation, according to her amended court filings.
Attorneys for Abby Grossberg, a now-former producer for Fox programmes starring Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo, claim she was unlawfully terminated days after she filed her complaints in New York and in Delaware, where the network is defending itself from a $1.6bn defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, according to documents filed on 27 March.
Her allegations describe a workplace that “subjugates women based on vile sexist stereotypes, typecasts religious minorities and belittles their traditions, and demonstrates little to no regard for those suffering from mental illness.” She also accused the network of coercing her into providing false or misleading testimony in the Dominion case in an effort to protect leadership and top personalities, which her lawyers contend is part of a legacy of gender-based discrimination at the network. Fox News disputes the allegations.
Attorneys for Ms Grossberg argue in court filings that their client received “damaging and woefully inferior and inadequate legal representation (if you can even call it that) as compared to her male counterparts at Fox News,” whose attorneys “coerced, intimidated, and misinformed Ms Grossberg as they ‘prepared’ her in connection with deposition testimony she gave in the pending defamation case brought by the company known as Dominion.”
Ms Grossberg’s complaint also claims that the network filed a lawsuit against her to “silence” her from “telling her story in this lawsuit” after she refused to settle on the network’s terms.
Two days after Ms Grossberg filed her lawsuit, attorneys for Fox News filed a motion in US District Court in New York to seal the complaint, arguing that it contains information protected by attorney-client privilege and attorney-work product doctrine. A judge rejected the motion, stating that “the cat is now firmly out of the bag.”
Ms Grossberg was placed on “forced administrative leave,” according to her complaint.
She was then fired on 24 March, according to a statement from her attorneys with Filippatos PLC, a law firm specialising in employment cases. A spokesperson for Fox News confirmed her termination.
“Finally, brazenly, and unlawfully, Fox News, hammered the final nail into the coffin of Ms Grossberg’s once-promising career in television journalism by publicly terminating her employment for allegedly being insubordinate for publicly disclosing the woefully inadequate and likely malicious ‘legal advice’ given to her by Fox News attorneys prior to and during her deposition in the Dominion/Fox Lawsuit,” the filing states.
A statement from a Fox News spokesperson asserts that its attorneys “engage in privileged communications with our employees as necessary to provide legal advice.”
“Last week, our attorneys advised Ms Grossberg that, while she was free to file whatever legal claims she wished, she was in possession of our privileged information and was not authorized to disclose it publicly,” according to the statement shared with The Independent. “We were clear that if she violated our instructions, Fox would take appropriate action including termination. Ms Grossberg ignored these communications and chose to file her complaint without taking any steps to protect those portions containing Fox’s privileged information. We will continue to vigorously defend Fox against Ms Grossberg’s unmeritorious legal claims, which are riddled with false allegations against Fox and our employees.”
New court documents on 27 March include her corrected testimony from the high-stakes defamation case. During her deposition in September 2022, she said “yes” when asked whether she trusts Fox producers. She amended her answer to “no,” adding that those producers are “activists, not journalists, and impose their political agendas on the programming,” according to her filings.
“The frivolous litigation tactics by Fox News punctuate its blatant disregard for the law, which is further underscored by the Company’s recent retaliatory firing of Ms Grossberg,” according to a statement from Ms Grossberg’s attorney Parisis G Filippatos to The Independent.