Woman sues Bill O'Reilly and Fox for defamation over sex harassment

Woman sues Bill O'Reilly and Fox for defamation over sex harassment

Darren Sullivan
December 5, 2017

Rachel Witlieb Bernstein's attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY against O'Reilly and his former employer, Fox News, for breach of contract and defamation.

Her suit names both Fox News and O'Reilly as defendants and seeks damages to be determined at trial for breach of contract, defamation and other claims.

When the New York Times published its story about O'Reilly, the cable news network's parent company responded, "Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O'Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O'Reilly".

As a result of the statements made by O'Reilly and the Fox News, Bernstein stated that she suffered reputational harm, emotional distress, physical sickness and loss of income, states the suit.

According to the Times, Bernstein's suit did not, unlike some of the other claims against O'Reilly, involve sexual harassment.

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She says O'Reilly insinuated she extorted him which she says is a lie, calling the former FNC host a "serial abuser".

Fox News fired its famed host in April amid several sexual harassment allegations against him. She also says she made repeated complaints in person to the network's human resources department and to other senior Fox News executives. She was constrained out of her activity at Fox News and paid a settlement in light of his abuse. According to Bernstein's lawsuit, there was no hotline at the time, and she in fact told others at the network about the mistreatment. She's represented by the same attorneys at Smith Mullin who represented Gretchen Carlson in the retaliation lawsuit against Fox News. "They should release all victims from their NDS and let the truth out". "It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence".

The amount of the payout was not disclosed, though the story notes that the network paid five women about $13 million to forego litigation over O'Reilly's behavior. In it, Bernstein was personally identified as a "young producer" who, in 2002, was allegedly verbally assaulted by O'Reilly in the Fox newsroom.

Bernstein says the statement was false.