Earlier this month, Fox Sports president Jamie Horowitz was fired abruptly, only days after the network had gone all-in on his grand online vision of video content over everything. Details soon emerged about the reason for Horowitz’s firing: He had been canned amid a sexual harassment investigation following complaints from female staffs.
Now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Horowitz and lawyer Patty Glaser are preparing a lawsuit, alleging that Fox was hypersensitive about sexual harassment following a scandal at Fox News and that Horowitz was fired unjustly.
Fox has dealt with several massive sexual harassment scandals over the past couple years, beginning with the numerous accusations against Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes and continuing with allegations against Fox News stalwart anchor Bill O’Reilly earlier this year. Per The Hollywood Reporter:
Glaser is said to be preparing a lawsuit and conducting her own investigation with an eye on arguing that Fox, hypersensitive due to the Fox News scandal and nervous about regulatory scrutiny of its planned acquisition of Sky Television in the U.K., acted impulsively and without all the facts.
The Hollywood Reporter also has some details of exactly how Horowitz’s firing went down. Horowitz reportedly met with a workplace investigator on June 30 and addressed questions about his interactions with colleagues, though he was not confronted with an accusation.
But after the meeting, when Fox asked him to surrender his company ID, leave the West Los Angeles lot and return at 8 a.m. on Monday of that holiday weekend, he called Patty Glaser, the fiery L.A. litigator, who advised him to do as commanded. When Horowitz arrived, he was told he was being terminated for cause and that the Los Angeles Times was about to post a story reporting his firing. Nobody explained why exactly. But Daniel Petrocelli, the top litigator who was hired to represent Fox Sports in the matter, tells The Hollywood Reporter: “We are confident that Mr. Horowitz knows why his employment was terminated, and we presume that he would prefer that the matter not publicly be discussed.”
Sports Illustrated has reported that Horowitz tried to kiss a female production staffer, and The Hollywood Reporter says he was accused of harassment by another woman in the company as well.
Both Horowitz’s camp and Fox seem to be strategically leaking parts of this story, perhaps attempting to pressure the other side into a settlement before embarrassing revelations come out. That would explain why Horowitz and company seem to be presenting the situation as confusing and hastily handled, while Fox’s lawyer is giving vague but sinister statements about how, “we presume that he would prefer that matter not be publicly discussed.” It might be in everyone’s best interest to get this over with quickly—that way Fox can move forward and Horowitz can avoid the outing of details that could hurt his future employment.
Horowitz’s tenure at Fox Sports lasted less than two years, but he managed to dramatically shake up the editorial operation nonetheless, emphasizing debate over everything and amplifying opinion-havers like Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd. After a chaotic and stressful year that left Fox Sports online employees afraid for their futures, Horowitz pushed through a drastic shift to video content that left several dozen employees fired and star reporters like Ken Rosenthal and Bruce Feldman without anywhere to write.
Horowitz is out at Fox Sports, and he has burned enough bridges in media that he might not find another job very easily, but it sounds like we haven’t heard the last of his name.