A former Fox News employee who reached a settlement with Bill O'Reilly in 2002 sued the former Fox News host and the network on Monday for breach of contract and defamation.
"O'Reilly depicted Ms. Bernstein in a false light, criticized and derided her character, raising doubt about her intentions in detailing O'Reilly's manhandle to HR and at last being constrained out at Fox News with a settlement assention", she asserts in her suit.
"O'Reilly portrayed himself as a "target" and claimed that complaints against him are extortionate", Ms. Bernstein's lawsuit said. Bernstein alleges that Fox News, through its parent company, 21st Century Fox, falsely told The Times that it had received no complaints to an anonymous company hotline because, she contends, there wasn't a hotline while she was employed there in 2002.
Bernstein's attorneys said in a statement Monday that she "was not the source for this revelation". She's one of the five women named in an April New York Timesreport about $13 million worth of settlements by O'Reilly and the company. She also says she made repeated complaints in person to the network's human resources department and to other senior Fox News executives.
O'Reilly has paid out more than $45 million to settle claims against him, according to The Times. She accused him of forcing her into a "nonconsensual relationship". "Others at Fox confirmed Ms. Bernstein's complaints". "They should release all victims from their NDS and let the truth out".
Former Fox News producer claims O'Reilly broke agreement
O'Reilly would make other comments including to The Hollywood Reporter, which is cited in today's lawsuit. "It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence".
The lawsuit says Bernstein has suffered loss of income, emotional distress and sickness.
The story and others would cause O'Reilly to lose his job, but not before he commented, "Just like other prominent and controversial people, I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity".
Subsequent statements by O'Reilly are alleged to have violated the nondisparagement clause, according to Bernstein.
The defendants breached their agreement by making statements other than the agreed-upon statement that were false and defamatory, Bernstein alleges.
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