Fox News reportedly settles with ex-host Melissa Francis, awards whopping $15M over gender pay gap

Former Fox News host Melissa Francis has reportedly settled with the network and will receive a massive payout of $15 million after she accused them of gender pay disparity.

The network agreed to the payout after Francis departed in 2020 after nine years as a host on Fox News and Fox Business, The Washington Post is reporting. Her departure came as a shock to many viewers and was never fully explained.

She filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor after leaving Fox News, alleging retaliation by the network after she outed her former employer for its gender pay disparity.

“Fox News has always been committed to the equitable treatment of all employees which we have demonstrated consistently over our 26-year history, and we are extremely proud of our business. We parted ways with Melissa Francis over a year and a half ago and her allegations were entirely without merit. We have also fully cooperated with the New York State Department of Labor’s investigation and look forward to the completion of this matter,” Fox News said in a statement.

Francis claims that Dianne Brandi, who is a former executive vice president for legal and business affairs at the network, admitted to a pay disparity between men and women at Fox News during a contract negotiation in 2019. She asserted that Brandi told her she had no recourse during the negotiations and was forced into accepting a smaller salary than a man would get in similar negotiations.

“That’s how the world works,” Brandi remarked, according to Francis. “Women make less. It’s just a fact.”

“Melissa Francis’ version of that conversation is untrue and patently absurd – furthermore, it is illogical that anyone with Dianne Brandi’s level of experience in negotiating talent contracts for a living would make such a ludicrous statement,” a Fox News spokesperson said, aggressively denying the former host’s allegations.

Fox News told The Hill that it has “undergone a comprehensive overhaul of its entire workplace culture,” including in areas that promoted women.

Ari Wilkenfeld, who is a partner at the Atkinson Law Group in Bethesda, MD, commented that the size of Francis’ award suggests that Fox News realized it would have a weak position defending itself in court against a lawsuit.

“For a settlement this large, there would probably need to be pretty convincing evidence of an obvious and gross disparity in pay,” he contended according to the Washington Post.

The New York State Labor Department is still adjudicating Francis’ claim. Her attorney, Kevin Mintzer, told the Washington Post that Francis filed her complaint for “the women of the company who remain behind.”

Fox News also paid out a huge $20 million settlement to ex-host Gretchen Carlson in 2016. She filed a sexual harassment claim against the network and the late CEO Roger Ailes.

Francis is a former actress who appeared on “Little House on the Prairie,” before earning an economics degree and then going to work for CNBC. She worked for Fox News from 2012 to 2020, co-hosting”Outnumbered” and “After The Bell.”

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