Fox News has agreed to pay former host Melissa Francis a $15 million settlement after she accused the network of gender pay disparity and was ultimately taken off the air, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The news comes six months into the New York State Department of Labor’s investigation into her complaint that Fox News retaliated against her for speaking up about the discriminatory practice.
In 2012, Francis left her post covering financial news for CNBC to become an anchor at Fox Business. About five years into her tenure, she was promoted to co-anchor of Fox News’ midday show “Outnumbered,” while continuing to co-host Fox Business’ “After The Bell” and making occasional appearances on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Francis told the Post that the meager salary increase she was offered prompted her to start gathering information about her male and female coworkers’ salaries. During a contract negotiation meeting in 2019, Dianne Brandi, former EVP for business and legal affairs at Fox News informed Francis that she would not receive a pay raise. Francis alleged that when she presented the data she had collected, Brandi said, “That’s how the world works. Women make less. It’s just a fact.”
A spokesperson for Fox on behalf of Brandi called Francis’ version of that conversation “untrue and patently absurd – furthermore, it is illogical that anyone with Dianne Brandi’s level of experience in negotiating talent contracts for a living would make such a ludicrous statement.”
“We parted ways with Melissa Francis over a year and a half ago and her allegations were entire without merit,” a Fox spokesperson said. “We have also fully cooperated with the New York State Department of Labor’s investigation and look forward to the completion of this matter.”
According to the Post, Francis was effectively taken off the air on Oct. 7, 2020, the day Fox was ordered to turn over salary information by an arbitrator. She officially resigned in February 2021.
Her attorney, Kevin Mintzer, said Francis filed the Labor Relations complaint “not for herself but
for the women of the company who remain behind.”
In the post-#MeToo upheaval that saw the ousting of Fox News mainstays like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, female accusers were paid upwards of $20 and $30 million as settlement.
“Fox News has always been committed to the equitable treatment of all employees which we have demonstrated consistently over our 26-year history, and we are extremely proud of our business,” the Fox News spokesperson said.