Fox News is at the center of yet another lawsuit from an employee, and while this one has nothing to do with sexual harassment (for a change), it does involve sexism. Reporter Diana Falzone is accusing the network of gender discrimination, claiming that she was banned from on-air appearances after publishing an op-ed about her struggles with endometriosis and infertility, somewhat ironically titled “Women Should Never Suffer in Silence.”
According to the suit, Falzone had approval to write the column — but three days after it ran, her supervisor, Refet Kaplan, said that network execs decided she would no longer appear on Fox News (either on air or on the website). She was apparently given no reason for the decision and reportedly had, up until that point, consistently received positive performance evaluations.
The filing doesn’t get into why Falzone believes she was taken off the air, but her lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, pointed out in a statement that Falzone’s male coworkers talked about similar things without being penalized.
“The issues raised in Diana Falzone’s lawsuit are a concern for all women,” said Smith. “Fox News never banned her male counterparts who have discussed their personal health issues on air. Indeed, those men saw their careers advance.”
Fox News has yet to comment on the suit, so there’s no telling what sort of explanation it will give for what happened to Falzone (though it’s safe to say the network will deny that it had anything to do with her being a woman). But if the many other ugly incidents plaguing the channel in recent months are any indication, Fox News isn’t the most female-friendly place to work: Former chief Roger Ailes was ousted from his position last summer after being accused of “inappropriate behavior” by at least six women; Bill O’Reilly was forced to leave last month after it was revealed that five women had been paid about $13 million dollars to settle sexual harassment claims. Host Jesse Waters recently went on an unexpected vacation after making derogatory comments about how Ivanka Trump looked talking into a microphone. Co-president Bill Shine just resigned.
So, basically, Falzone’s lawsuit doesn’t come as a huge surprise. But if what she alleges is true, it’s still incredibly disappointing. Falzone did nothing wrong in attempting to bring awareness to a painful condition so many woman have to deal with. There’s no question that countless readers were able to relate to passages like this one from Falzone’s op-ed:
It was just days after my 33rd birthday when my doctor delivered the worst news of my life: I will likely never have a child and fulfill my greatest wish of being a mother. When hit with the news that I am infertile, I could not stop crying. And not only was it very unlikely I’d ever conceive, my health was in jeopardy.
And now, she’s potentially being punished for talking about it. It’s just hard to make sense of why. If men’s health issues are fair game on network TV and online, why not women’s health issues? There’s no acceptable answer to that question, just an endless supply of extremely frustrating examples that prove that a large portion of our society does not value the health and well-being of women. Here’s hoping Falzone is able to recover both physically and professionally from this challenging time.