Fox News Pays Former On-Air Personality $15 Million in Pay Disparity Case

Melissa Francis had been a popular and ubiquitous presence on Fox News prior to October 2020 and then just disappeared.  What was going on behind the scenes concerned Francis' pay disparity.  Francis, 49, was a regular fixture on Fox News — where she was a panelist on the daytime chat show “Outnumbered” — and Fox Business Network from 2012-20.

Francis had suspected that she was not being remunerated for her work in the same fashion as her male colleagues but needed proof to verify her claim.  As any good journalist would do, Francis decided to do her own investigation.  She collected salary information from former colleagues and agents in preparation for her contract negotiation in 2019. She determined that men were paid more than their female counterparts in similar roles on the network.

Francis’ lawyer asked Fox News to disclose the salaries of other Fox News on-air stars, which the company refused. She filed for arbitration in early 2020. An arbitrator asked Fox News for the salary information, setting an Oct. 7 deadline — which turned out to be Francis’ last day on the air.

The pay disparity issue is not the first time Fox News has found itself in legal troubles or suffering from a public image problem.  Sexual discrimination lawsuits were filed against prominent Fox News personalities and the head of the corporation, Roger Ailes. 

The revelation about Francis’ settlement amount comes just months after The Daily Beast first reported that she had filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Labor, claiming that Fox News retaliated against her for pointing out the pay disparity.

While neither Francis nor her attorney Kevin Mintzer would comment on the settlement amount, Mintzer did provide a statement on Francis’ complaint with the labor department.

“Melissa filed her charge with the Department of Labor not for herself but for the women of the company who are still there,” Mintzer told The Daily Beast. “Contrary to Fox News’ false claims about a ‘new era,’ what happened to Melissa shows that sexism and retaliation are still prevalent at the network. We continue to cooperate with the Department of Labor, and we look forward to receiving the findings of their investigation.”
If you believe you've been subject to gender-based pay disparity, please contact us immediately for a free initial consultation.  We have decades of experience fighting for those who've been subject to sexual discrimination as well as pay equity violations.