Britt McHenry sues Fox News, saying Tyrus sexually harassed her

Britt McHenry in 2015, when she worked for ESPN. Now a Fox Nation host, she sued Fox News on Tuesday, charging that it did not respond appropriately when she accused her co-host of sexual harassment.Credit...Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Britt McHenry in 2015, when she worked for ESPN. Now a Fox Nation host, she sued Fox News on Tuesday, charging that it did not respond appropriately when she accused her co-host of sexual harassment. –Alex Brandon / AP, File

Britt McHenry, who hosts a show on the Fox Nation streaming service, sued Fox News on Tuesday, saying the network had failed to respond to four sexual harassment complaints that she made against her former co-host, George Murdoch, and then retaliated against her for the claims while giving him his own show.

McHenry said in court documents that she had “suffered humiliation, emotional anguish, derailment of her career, and significant loss of economic opportunities” as a result of her treatment by the network. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also names Murdoch, a former professional wrestler known by the stage name “Tyrus,” as well as three Fox News executives.

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The lawsuit is the latest sexual harassment claim to hit Fox News, which was rocked by allegations by female employees that led to millions of dollars in settlements and the departure of its chairman and chief executive, Roger Ailes, in 2016 and its star host, Bill O’Reilly, in 2017.

“I am standing up for myself, for women and for what’s right,” McHenry wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “I have maintained the same allegations because the truth doesn’t change. I feel for any sexual harassment victim who has their story and evidence dismissed, doubted and not believed.”

McHenry claims in her suit that Murdoch, with whom she co-hosted the streaming program “Un-PC,” sent her sexually inappropriate text messages, threatened to send her a picture of his genitalia and talked about having sex with her over the course of several months last year.

McHenry said she complained to Fox executives three times this year but was asked what she did to “provoke” Murdoch and was told she was “replaceable,” according to her lawsuit. Her agent also complained on her behalf, she said.

McHenry claimed that after executives received a fourth complaint about Murdoch, she was “frozen out by Fox News management” and stopped receiving opportunities to appear on its television programs, which have much higher viewership than its streaming service.

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Meanwhile, she said, her former co-host was promoted to be the host of his own streaming show, “Nuff Said.” A representative for Murdoch did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Fox News said in a statement that it had investigated McHenry’s accusations, including when she filed similar allegations with the New York State Division of Human Rights in October, and found them to be baseless.

“As we have previously stated, Ms. McHenry’s allegations have been fully investigated and we are confident our actions will be deemed entirely appropriate in litigation,” the statement said. “We expect all of her claims to be dismissed.”

But in her suit, McHenry said the investigation into her claims had also been marred by sexual harassment. She said an investigator told her on two occasions in September that she was “really pretty” and said to her, in reference to Murdoch, “Come on, you didn’t know you were leading him on?”

“After payouts of over $100 million in recent sexual harassment scandals, Fox News publicly says it now has ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual harassment,” the lawsuit says. “This is a dangerous lie. In practice, Fox News remains a sanctuary for sexual harassers, coddling and enabling the men who abuse female employees.”

In a statement, McHenry’s lawyer, Lisa Bloom, said she thought the network had not learned from its experiences with Ailes and O’Reilly.

“Britt McHenry’s bombshell story should not be happening at Fox News in 2019,” Bloom said. “I am proud to represent her as she demands justice.”