A woman who entered a confidential settlement agreement with Bill O'Reilly in 2002 while at Fox News charged in a lawsuit Monday that the "serial abuser and coward" smeared her as a liar, breaking the terms of their deal.
Berstein's attorney filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY against O'Reilly and Fox News for breach of contract and defamation.
One of the lawyers, Neil Mullin, said O'Reilly and the network violated a non-disparagement clause in their 2002 settlement agreement with Bernstein, which stated that if asked about the case, they should simply say "the matter has been settled".
"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. The statement by Fox News is deliberately misleading and in breach of Fox's agreement not to disparage Ms. Bernstein.
"In fact, Mr. O'Reilly is the liar", claims Bernstein's lawsuit.
Her suit names both Fox News and O'Reilly as defendants and seeks damages to be determined at trial for breach of contract, defamation and other claims. In the Times'sApril report, the news network claimed that they maintained an employee hotline and that no one had used the hotline to report O'Reilly (O'Reilly has repeated this claim as well). "Mr. O'Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News". In another widely published statement he said, "the worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel". In October, The Times also reported that the anchor had paid a $32 million settlement to Lis Wiehl, a former federal prosecutor and a legal analyst at the network. The Times notes that Bernstein did not accuse O'Reilly of sexual harassment. The exact amount she was paid is not known, but it was far less than the other settlements.
A Fox News spokesperson and representative for O'Reilly did not respond to a request for comment.
The plaintiff said she was not the source for the information printed in the Times story.
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