Where Gretchen Carlson’s $20 Million Settlement Ranks Among the Biggest Sexual Harassment Cases
When sexual harassment lawsuits come to light, many companies and individuals seek to settle the cases as quickly as possible to avoid extended bad publicity.
Take former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against her former boss Roger Ailes, for example. Just two months after she initially filed her sexual harassment lawsuit, 21st Century Fox announced on Tuesday that it had settled her claims for a whopping $20 million, and even offered her a public apology.
But for as much media coverage Carlson’s lawsuit received, that $20 million settlement is a drop in the bucket for some cases where plaintiffs have been awarded over $160 million by the courts.
Here’s a list of a few of some of the most famous sexual harassment settlements and awards in history, in order from least to greatest in awarded sums:
Paula Jones and President Bill Clinton, 1991
When former President Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas, a state employee by the name of Paula Jones accused Clinton of exposing himself to her and asking her for oral sex. Clinton denied all claims, and Jones dropped her case against Clinton in exchange for $850,000.
The Tailhook Convention, 1991
This case involved allegations against the United States armed forces. Among six other women, Former Navy lieutenant Paula Coughlin alleged that they she was sexually assaulted by drunken Naval and Marine officers who were attending a conference at Vegas’ Hilton Hotel. She ended up suing the hotel for a lack of adequate security, and won a $5.2 million judgment against the hotel.
Baker & McKenzie law firm and Rena Weeks, 1994
Former legal secretary Rena Weeks at Baker & McKenzie accused attorney Martin Greenstein of lunging at her chest, pouring M&Ms down her breast pocket, and grabbing at her hips. She was awarded $7.1 million in punitive damages by a San Francisco judge, although that amount was eventually dropped to $3.5 million.
A former UBS sales assistant and her supervisor, 2011
Carla C. Ingraham, a former employee at UBS, said her supervisor made repeated comments about her breast size, and asked her about sexual fantasies, among other things. She claimed UBS fired her after she complained, even though UBS said it prohibits retaliation against employees who complain of harassment. She was awarded $10.6 million.
Anucha Browne Sanders and New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, 2007
Anucha Browne Sanders, a former team executive for the Knicks, said she was fired after coach Isiah Thomas reportedly sexually harassed her for two years. A judge awarded her $11.6 million in punitive damages.
Gretchen Carlson and Fox News, 2016
Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her boss and former Fox CEO and chairman, Roger Ailes. Carlson didn’t sue Fox, but instead sued Ailes personally. She was awarded $20 million and was also issued an apology from Fox. After Carlson went public with her claims against Ailes, many other women followed suit.
Linda Gilbert and Chrysler, 1999
Linda Gilbert was the first woman millwright at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. She claimed that she was harassed by co-workers with sexually explicit photos and cruel names, and was awarded $21 million, which is supposedly the largest sum ever given to an individual sexual harassment plaintiff. But the Michigan Supreme court threw out her case in 2004 after deciding it was “clearly the product of passion and prejudice.”
Ralph’s Grocery Store and six female workers, 2002
Six female workers at Ralph’s grocery store in Escondido, Calif. were awarded $30 million after they claimed a store manager harassed them for an entire year. The claimed the manager fondled them, among other things. But after a state appeals court found the case was “constitutionally excessive,” the reward was reduced.
Ashley Alford and Aaron’s rent-to-own, 2011
Ashley Alford, an employee of Aaron’s was awarded $95 million after claiming the store’s manager not only sexually harassed her for a year, but assaulted her in 2006. The manager reportedly snuck up behind her while she was sitting in a stock room and hit her in the head with his penis. Her award was later reduced to $40 million because of a cap on federal damages.
Ani Chopourian and Mercy General Hospital, 2012
Ani Chopourian, who was a physician’s assistant at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., said doctors there constantly asked her for sex. A judge awarded her with $168 million.