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21st Century Fox gets nearly $90 million from insurers to cover harassment claims

21st Century Fox gets nearly $90 million from insurers to cover harassment claims
Posted at 10:26 AM, Nov 21, 2017

Insurers will pay 21st Century Fox almost $90 million to cover the cost of settlements related to sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

The insurance payment is part of a settlement reached in negotiations between 21st Century Fox and one of its shareholders, the retirement plan for public employees in Monroe, Michigan.

Shareholders will not receive money directly from the agreement. Instead, they will benefit because the company will receive the $90 million, less attorney fees, from the insurers.

21st Century Fox has already paid $55 million to settle harassment and discrimination complaints, according to the settlement.

A complaint by the shareholders in a Delaware court said that 21st Century Fox also paid $47 million in severance to Roger Ailes, the former chief executive of Fox News, who left in July 2016 in the wake of a sexual harassment suit against him by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.

Fox settled Carlson's suit for $20 million. Ailes died in May.

In addition, the complaint said 21st Century Fox paid $25 million in severance to Bill O'Reilly, the anchor of the most popular show on Fox News until he was fired in April in the wake of sexual harassment claims against him.

The suit charged that both should have been fired for cause.

Shareholders had sought to get back some of the money paid to Ailes. They charged in the complaint that it amounted to "unjust enrichment" of Ailes, who was also a director of 21st Century Fox. But the settlement drops that part of the complaint against Ailes' estate.

As part of the settlement, 21st Century Fox established a Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council, charged with advancing women and minorities at the company and ensuring a proper work environment for all employees.

The council will be composed mostly of outsiders, including a former federal judge.

"The council is a real positive, and experts in the field agree," said 21st Century Fox spokesman Nathaniel Brown, who called it the centerpiece of the agreement.

The agreement with shareholders does not close the books on the sexual harassment settlements for 21st Century Fox.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department began investigatingwhether the company failed to properly inform shareholders about settlements with employees who accused Ailes of harassment, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNNMoney.

And the company could still face civil charges from the SEC for failing to disclose some of those settlements. The company has said in regulatory filings that those settlements were not large enough to be important to investors.