Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP is investigating potential derivative claims on behalf of the shareholders of Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (NASDAQ: FOX), related to allegations that Roger Ailes sexually harassed and assaulted women for decades. The investigation concerns whether the company’s officers and directors breached their fiduciary duties by failing to stop or prevent Mr. Ailes’s inappropriate behavior and the company’s alleged culture of misogyny.
On July 6, 2016, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Mr. Ailes alleging that Mr. Ailes terminated her as retaliation for refusing his sexual advances. Then, on July 19, reports surfaced that Ailes made “unwanted sexual advances” toward Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly at the start of her career. Andrea Tantaros, host of The Five, filed a lawsuit in August against Fox News, Ailes, and several other high level executives (including Bill Shine) alleging numerous instances of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments. In total, more than twenty women have come forward claiming similar mistreatment and alleging that the women of Fox News routinely had to sleep with their managers — in many cases, Roger Ailes — in exchange for promotions.
In the wake of the scandal, Mr. Ailes resigned on July 21, 2016, receiving a $40 million exit package. In September, Fox settled Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit for $20 million. Mr. Ailes did not contribute to the settlement, although he was the sole defendant named in the lawsuit.
Mr. Ailes’s behavior has already exposed the company to significant civil liability and may further cause harm to the company and its shareholders as key personnel leave the network. Many Fox news anchors have “key man” clauses in their contracts letting them out of their contracts following Mr. Ailes’s departure. Longtime news anchor Greta Van Susteren used such a “key man” provision when she abruptly left the network in September.
The company’s officers and directors may have breached their fiduciary duties by failing to conduct an investigation into the conduct of other senior executives who allegedly conspired with Ailes to cover up his transgressions. This includes Bill Shine, Senior Executive Vice President of Programming, who was promoted to Co-President of Fox News and extended a long-term contract following the scandal, despite reports that he helped facilitate and conceal Ailes’s behavior. The company’s officers and directors may be responsible for causing significant financial and reputational harm to the company.
If you currently own stock in Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. and wish to obtain additional information about our investigation and your legal rights, please contact Kathryn Schubert via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (415) 788-4220, or fill out the form (at right).