DUBUQUE, Iowa - Fifteen months ago, Minnesota native Gretchen Carlson, sued her powerful boss, Roger Ailes, at Fox News for sexual discrimination.
Her bombshell lawsuit drew headlines around the country and fueled the fire of a national conversation on sexual harassment.
Though Carlson won a $20 million settlement, she was terminated from Fox News and had to step away from the career she worked so hard to build.
Carlson sat down with KARE 11's Julie Nelson in Dubuque, Iowa, where she was speaking at a women's conference, to talk about what came next.
A new purpose began to emerge for Carlson the day her lawsuit went public. Immediately, she says, women who had been victims of sexual abuse began contacting her, wanting to share their stories.
That is when Carlson says her “Midwestern sensibilities kicked in,” and she felt she had a duty to bring their stories to light.
She published many of them in a book, out Tuesday, titled “Be Fierce,” which also serves as a guidebook for women who are considering filing a sexual discrimination complaint themselves. Her first piece of advice: Consult an attorney before you go to your company’s human resources.
Then, develop a game plan complete with as much documentation as possible.
Carlson is also fighting to make claims of sexual harassment more public. Right now, most employment contracts contain a clause that requires disputes between employees and the company be settled by a company-appointed arbitrator.
A part of most arbitrations is a secrecy clause that prevents victims from sharing their stories. They may get a settlement, but they often lose their jobs, while the perpetrator stays on in his role, able to continue his career and continue harassing women with no one the wiser.
Carlson is lobbying on Capitol Hill for a bill that would strip away the secrecy and bring the proceedings into the light.
Though she never imagined this is the turn her life would take, Carlson says, if she has had any role in other women coming forward and bringing this issue forward, she will be immensely proud.