Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News employee who accused Bill O’Reilly of sexually harassing her in 2011, said Monday that she’s still “terrified” of the network after the lengths it went to in order to protect him and discredit her.
“You know that you’re just this one person that’s about to go up against literally a machine,” Huddy told NBC News’ Megyn Kelly, who herself has said she was sexually harassed during her time at Fox News by its then-chairman, the late Roger Ailes.
The fear of retaliation “holds you back against taking action sometimes,” said Huddy, a one-time on-air personality at Fox News.
Huddy ultimately did take action, detailing her allegations in a letter her lawyers sent to Fox News in August 2016, according to The New York Times. Within weeks, she agreed not to sue and instead accepted a six-figure settlement from Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox.
In her comments to Kelly, Huddy didn’t say whether she regretted taking the settlement and signing a non-disclosure agreement. But she discussed why women often choose to settle in these situations.
“They just don’t want to face what potentially could be coming at them,” she said. Perhaps, she added, more women would feel enabled to fight and come forward if non-disclosure agreements didn’t exist.
She slammed Fox’s human resources department for “protecting the bosses, not protecting the employees.” Such attitudes may be one reason more women don’t report harassment at their workplaces, she said, adding that they’re worried they will be labeled a “troublemaker.”
The number of sexual harassment cases involving O’Reilly continues to grow. He paid longtime analyst Lis Wiehl $32 million to settle in a newly revealed sexual harassment suit, the Times reported on Saturday.
That makes six harassment suits settled by either the anchor or the company, totaling $45 million, according to the Times. Company heads were aware of the settlements yet still decided to go ahead with contract negotiations with him early this year, agreeing on a four-year extension for Mr. O’Reilly with a $25 million annual salary, the Times reported. But when some of the settlements became public, that changed and O’Reilly was fired on April 19.
O’Reilly has vehemently denied the accusations, claiming they are malicious.
Payouts by Fox News’ parent company go beyond O’Reilly. Almost $100 million in settlements have gone to “scores” of women who have lodged complaints against several male employees at the network, Mark Fabiani, O’Reilly’s spokesman, told CNN.
These have included a $20 million payout last year to former anchor Gretchen Carlson, who sued Ailes in July 2016 for sexual harassment. He resigned from the network shortly thereafter, and died in May.