Who Is Douglas Wigdor? Fox News Refused To Settle His Discrimination Lawsuits
Fox News has been plagued by a number of sexual harassment scandals, and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, has reportedly had to shell out tens of millions of dollars as a result. These allegations have also led to the departure of several high-profile figures in the network. According a New York Times report on Wednesday, lawyer Douglas Widgor recently asked for more than $60 million from Fox to settle discrimination lawsuits that he filed on behalf of over 20 current and former employees. The company, however, reportedly rejected the settlement. Bustle has reached out to Fox News for comment.
Wigdor was specifically targeting gender and racial discrimination in his lawsuits, but the nature of the settlement he proposed was unorthodox, the Times reported. He wanted the settlement — which would have totaled more than $60 million — to be paid in a lump sum, and to then be distributed to his clients at his discretion. Mediation in these cases likely failed because Wigdor wanted to settle them all together, making it difficult to analyze the nuances and merits of each individual lawsuit.
But when Fox rejected the settlement, Wigdor went public with another defamation and racial discrimination lawsuit last week. This particular lawsuit pertained to a story about Democratic aide Seth Rich, who was shot in Washington, D.C. last summer. Fox News later retracted the story.
A lawyer for more than 20 current and former Fox News employees asked for more than $60 million to settle the cases. https://t.co/G26yp1MaOR— NYT Media (@nytmedia) August 9, 2017
The defamation and racial discrimination lawsuit was filed on behalf of Rod Wheeler, who was hired by Rich's family to look into his death. Wheeler, a paid commentator on Fox News, is black, and asserted in the lawsuit that Fox News discriminated against him on the basis of his race by giving him less money and airtime than his white colleagues, a claim that the network vehemently denies. Wheeler also alleged that the White House used him as a pawn to end speculation that the Trump administration had ties to Russia. (White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denies the allegation.)
Fox News' president, Jay Wallace, told NPR that there was no "concrete evidence" that Wheeler had been misquoted by the reporter who wrote the story about Rich. Wallace also made a separate statement arguing that accusations about Fox News attempting to detract from the administration's alleged collusion with Russia were "erroneous."
Nevertheless, it does not look like Wigdor has any plans of backing down from this string of lawsuits. In regards to the $60 million settlement he proposed, Wigdor pointed out that Ailes and O'Reilly received $40 million and $25 million respectively from Fox, and consequently made the case that "any amount under what Ailes and O’Reilly got in total would be unjust."