In a cover story in this week’s TIME magazine, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson says she has agreed to testify before Congress about forced arbitration, the fine print in many television contracts that requires talent to give up their right to litigation and agree to settle disputes in arbitration.
“It is a huge problem. Because it’s secret. And it plays into why we think that we’ve come so far in society and we probably really haven’t–because we don’t hear about it,” Carlson said. “The intent of the Supreme Court when they ruled on arbitration was to unclog the courts. It was not to put issues of discrimination and harassment into covert operations.”
When Carlson sued then-Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, her lawyers did not add Fox News as a defendant. Ailes’ attorneys at the time accused Carlson and her team of selectively targeting Ailes to avoid the arbitration clause in her Fox News contract:
In one motion, Ailes’ attorneys argue that Carlson breached her contract with Fox News by suing Ailes, when her “multi-million dollar employment agreement” with Fox required settling disputes by arbitration. The motion suggests Carlson’s suit names only Ailes–and not Fox News–as a means of avoiding the arbitration requirement. “There is no legal basis upon which she can rightfully assert that she was entitled to sue Defendant Ailes in court and sully his reputation in public,” the filing says.
In September, Carlson and Fox News parent 21st Century Fox announced a settlement of her lawsuit, which called for a $20 million dollar payment to Carlson and a public apology.
Carlson’s testimony will be given after the election as legislators consider anti-forced-arbitration laws co-sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Al Franken.
“I think this is happening every single day to women in all walks of life and in all different types of corporations,” Carlson tells Time. “I’ve heard from so many women, from Wall Street to a tiny little town in Alabama. It’s everywhere.”
The magazine reports Carlson has received several unsolicited calls about TV jobs, “and she’d love to go back on the air.” TIME also has this behind-the-scenes video of her cover shoot: