Fox News reportedly agreed to pay former anchor Melissa Francis approximately $15 million to settle a dispute over her claims of a gender pay gap at the network, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
Francis had filed a separate complaint with the New York State Labor Department last year, arguing the conservative outlet retaliated against her after she brought up evidence of male hosts being paid more than their female counterparts, according to the Daily Beast.
Kevin Mintzer, Melissa Francis’ lawyer, declined comment on the news of the settlement, but shared with HuffPost Francis’ motivation behind filing the complaint.
“Melissa filed her charge with the Department of Labor not for herself but for the women of the company who are still there,” Mintzer told HuffPost. “Contrary to Fox News’ false claims about a ‘new era,’ what happened to Melissa shows that sexism and retaliation are still standard practice at the company. We continue to cooperate with the Department of Labor, and we look forward to receiving the findings of their investigation.”
Fox News continues to deny her allegations.
“We parted ways with Melissa Francis over a year and a half ago and her allegations were entirely without merit,” a Fox News spokesperson told HuffPost. “We have also fully cooperated with the New York State Department of Labor’s investigation and look forward to the completion of this matter.”
The spokesperson said the company has undergone “a comprehensive overhaul of its entire workplace culture — including tripling the size of its HR department, promoting more women in the executive ranks, elevating women in on-air host positions” and other initiatives.
Francis climbed the ranks at Fox, initially joining Fox Business as an anchor in 2012, having previously covered business news for CNBC. She also made regular appearances on Fox News. Five years later, Francis was hired by Fox News to co-host “Outnumbered” and continued to co-anchor a show on Fox Business. Francis was also a regular contributor on Tucker Carlson’s prime-time show. But in November 2020, she handed in her resignation.
Francis spoke to the Post about how she discovered the gender pay gap she alleges at the network, the events leading up to her resignation and her decision to file a complaint against her former employer.
The former host said she did not get a significant salary increase when she became a permanent co-host on “Outnumbered,” claiming she was paid less than $1 million, which she suspected was less than other hosts were making at the network.
This prompted her to compile a spreadsheet of anchors’ salaries at the network, seeking data from former colleagues and agents. A clear pattern emerged showing male anchors were making more than women in similar roles.
When Francis was passed over for a salary raise as part of her new contract negotiation in November 2019, she brought up the data she had compiled.
Francis said she was met with a blunt assessment.
“That’s how the world works. Women make less. It’s just a fact,” Francis recounted Fox News executive Dianne Brandi telling her. A Fox News spokesperson denied the allegation as “untrue and patently absurd.”
Two months later, Francis’ lawyer reached out to the network with a formal request to get information on how much other anchors were making, which the network did not grant.
In August 2020, Francis entered arbitration to settle the dispute, with the arbitrator setting a deadline of Oct. 7, 2020, for the network to share the data with Francis’ lawyer.
When that day came around, Francis said she was ready to go on air when a message popped up on her teleprompter reading: “You’ve been canceled.”
Francis did not appear on the channel again.