Judge won’t dismiss Gretchen Carlson lawsuit against Fox News

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(CNN) – A Delaware judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson against the network and parent company 21st Century Fox.

Judge Travis Laster ruled that Carlson, who sued in July, may move forward with claims that she was unfairly treated as a result of sexual harassment by Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and that she was then silenced with a settlement of $20 million. Carlson filed a request in February to increase the size of the settlement, and Laster last month postponed a hearing on the issue.

“Plaintiff has adequately alleged that her contract entitles her to and includes punitive damages … and that her claims of gender discrimination and retaliation are cognizable on their face,” Laster wrote. “Such claims are barred by privilege, but plaintiff’s case for that relief is prima facie.

Laster noted that Carlson had waited nearly two years to bring her claims.

“The mere timing of her action does not answer plaintiff’s motion for the summary judgment,” Laster wrote. “There is no indication that her claim was suddenly triggered. Plaintiff has waited too long to bring her claims.”

One of Carlson’s lawyers, Nancy Erika Smith, said she is “pleased that the court recognized Gretchen’s right to advance her claims against Fox and 21st Century Fox.”

Erica Ross, another of Carlson’s lawyers, also issued a statement, calling the ruling “a victory for everyone who is treated unfairly and retaliated against for reporting it.”

Laster ordered that Carlson’s lawyers be provided with more evidence before the final hearing on the matter, in order to determine whether or not legal damages should be awarded. Carlson is seeking more than $150 million, her lawyers have said.

Laster also denied Carlson’s request to have other Fox employees to sit in on the presentation of evidence.

No date has been set for the final hearing.

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Carlson’s lawyers have argued that there was no basis for Ailes’ agreement to settle.

“Fox’s offer of a lighthearted apology to Gretchen, or a $20 million civil agreement ‘with no strings attached,’ did not satisfy the standard of good faith and fair dealing,” Carlson’s attorneys wrote in a court filing last month.

In an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson last week, Ailes acknowledged he mistreated Carlson “a couple times” but said he didn’t agree with the way she subsequently went public with her allegations.

Ailes said that Carlson wanted $50 million, and that Carlson’s lawyer wanted to keep the issue alive in an effort to influence the upcoming presidential election.

Carlson confirmed to CNNMoney that she received $20 million under the settlement. But she also emphasized that it was “not really money.”

“It was an acknowledgment that the behavior was wrong and an acknowledgement that Fox News needed to change,” Carlson said in the interview.

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