Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

New allegations filed against Fox, O’Reilly

October 20, 2004

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— A Fox News Channel producer who filed a sex harassment lawsuit against talk show host Bill O'Reilly filed new accusations Tuesday, alleging she has lost her job because she complained to Fox about her alleged mistreatment.

A lawyer for O'Reilly and Fox denied that Andrea Mackris has been fired or retaliated against in any way.

Mackris, 33, said that by Sept. 29 she had told top executives of News Corp., parent company of the Fox News Channel, about the alleged harassment and hostile work environment to which she was subjected while working for O'Reilly's show, "The O'Reilly Factor."

Mackris, an associate producer on the show, says in court papers the executives told her a few days later to call in sick while they investigated her complaint. Since Oct. 5, when Mackris met with Fox lawyers, Fox officials have not discussed her job status with her, court papers say.

The amended lawsuit says Fox's "removal" of Mackris from her job "is in direct retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment and a sexually hostile work environment at defendants Fox." It is a violation of New York law to fire an employee who complains of sexual harassment.

Mackris alleged in her lawsuit last week that O'Reilly, 55 and married with two children, subjected her repeatedly to off-color sexual remarks and telephone sex talk.

Also Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported that Mackris turned down $2 million to make her sexual harassment complaint disappear..

Lawyers for Fox had proposed a $2 million settlement to Mackris and her lawyer, Benedict Morelli, sources at Fox told The News.

The negotiations took place days before Mackris filed her suit. But Mackris and Morelli thumbed their noses at the money, the sources said, and suggested that $60 million was a more appropriate starting point.

"When Benedict Morelli demanded $60 million, that was the end of any discussion, period and absolutely," said a Fox spokesman.

Morelli said he had two weeks of discussions with Fox's legal team before the lawsuit was filed.

"There were numbers that we talked about, but $2 million was never an offer," Morelli said.

He has always said that he considered the talks confidential -- but contends that the $60 million represents how much O'Reilly is worth to Fox, and not how much he was seeking.

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