Former Fox News employees Gretchen Carlson, Julie Roginsky and Diana Falzone ― who all sued the network for sexual harassment or discrimination ― are launching a campaign against workplace policies that keep victims quiet.
The Lift Our Voices campaign, announced this week, will seek to end the use of nondisclosure agreements, confidentiality provisions and forced arbitration clauses that prevent staff from speaking out about toxic workplace conditions.
Carlson, the former host of “Fox & Friends” and former co-host of “The Real Story,” knows the power of such agreements firsthand, having signed an NDA in a settlement for her multi-million dollar legal battle against the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes that exposed a culture of misconduct at the outlet.
In a wide-ranging interview with HuffPost on Tuesday, Carlson said scrapping NDAs “is just part of that revolution.”
“Had I known what I know now, I would have fought really hard to not sign my NDA at Fox,” she said. “But you have to go back in time to what the atmosphere and the environment was when I jumped off the cliff, which was we weren’t talking about this at all, and it was a totally different environment.”
If it comes to the fact that we have to put a law on the books so that women are no longer silent, then we will make sure that we work to do that. Gretchen Carlson
Lift Our Voices plans to push for federal legislation that would mimic a New Jersey law passed in March prohibiting NDAs in cases of alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation. Inspiration for the campaign struck in October, when NBCUniversal announced that it would allow former employees who faced sexual harassment to exit their NDA by contacting the company first.
The morning after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow broke the news on her primetime show, Carlson said she, Roginsky and Falzone texted each other and decided, “We’re going to do the same thing.”
But convincing Fox News to make a move will likely be impossible, Carlson predicts. “I don’t hold out a lot of hope that they’re going to do that on their own,” she said.
“I think that people will take note of companies who want to be forward-thinking and be friends to women in the workplace,” she said, “but if it comes to the fact that we have to put a law on the books so that women are no longer silent, then we will make sure that we work to do that.”
Since her 2016 exit from Fox News, Carlson’s story has inspired the development of a Showtime mini-series, “The Loudest Voice,” and “Bombshell,” a movie set for theatrical release this week in which she is played by Nicole Kidman. However, because of her legal settlement with Fox News, she can’t discuss whether the experiences shown onscreen are close to the ones she lived.
“It’s strange to watch these things be done about a very personal time in your life and not be able to participate, and not be able to even say, ‘Wow, that’s an accurate portrayal,’ or, ‘Wow, she really nailed it,’ or, ‘God, that’s not at all how it happened,’” she said.
To those who haven’t yet signed an NDA but are considering it, Carlson suggested they join the fight against these types of agreements instead.
“One woman can make a difference, but together we rock the world,” she said. “That’s what we’re really going to see now when we create an army of people coming together and that army goes to do the good work of making sure that people have a voice.”