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Fox wants ex-host’s harassment suit sent to arbitration

Fox News struck back against the former anchor Andrea Tantaros on Monday, filing a motion to move her sexual harassment lawsuit into arbitration.

In papers filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the network said, "Tantaros is not a victim; she is an opportunist."

Last week, Ms. Tantaros filed the lawsuit in the same court, accusing Fox News of operating like "a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult" and said that she had been sexually harassed by Roger Ailes, the network's former chairman, Bill O'Reilly, the anchor, and others. In the suit, she claims that, after complaining about harassment, she was eventually marginalized and removed from the air. The lawsuit names Mr. Ailes; Bill Shine and Suzanne Scott, two programming executives; Dianne Brandi, the legal chief; and Irena Briganti, the network's top communications executive.

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In the motion filed on Monday, lawyers for Fox News said they had looked into her harassment claims and found nothing, and that she had been let go for violating a major part of her contract: She did not get approval for a book she wrote titled, "Tied Up in Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable."

"Tantaros suggests that her suspension for ignoring her employment obligations in connection with publishing a book was a pretext in retaliation for her complaints of supposed sexual harassment," the Fox News motion states. "The opposite is true: Tantaros's allegations about sexual harassment are a smoke screen to obscure her violation of her employment contract."

The network said that by filing the lawsuit, Ms. Tantaros was again in violation of her contract because it stipulates that disputes involving her employment must go through arbitration, not a trial.

"The fact that arbitration may not present the opportunities for public vilification that she and her counsel seem to favor does not excuse ignoring the express terms of her employment agreement," the motion states.

Judd Burstein, a lawyer for Ms. Tantaros, said Monday that the motion "provides more corroboration" of his client's account, and reiterated a request made earlier on Monday that Fox News executives submit to a lie-detector test.

"If Mr. Shine and his minions are innocent, why do they want this dispute to be resolved in the shadows?" Mr. Burstein said in a statement. "An innocent person would be so outraged that he or she would want public vindication. Similarly, if I were the victim of false allegations, I would insist that my lawyer accept Ms. Tantaros's lie detector challenge."

Fox's lawyers said that when Ms. Tantaros made allegations of sexual harassment earlier, she did not mention Mr. Ailes. They also said she had difficulty recalling specific examples of harassment when she was asked.

Fox News was upended in July when Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Mr. Ailes, who has denied the allegations. An investigation by the law firm Paul, Weiss helped lead to Mr. Ailes's forced resignation two weeks later.

Ms. Carlson's lawsuit continues to grind on, and a New Jersey federal judge will similarly decide if that case should be settled in arbitration or at trial.