Melissa Francis, regularly seen on the popular Fox News midday talk show "Outnumbered," has been off the air for two weeks and is probably at the end of her six-year run at the network, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment and requested anonymity.
Francis, 47 has not been seen on the program since Oct. 7. A Fox News representative did not comment on her status, saying only that she is still an employee and its daytime programming is being revamped.
“Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes, including to its daytime lineup, and will launch new formats as appropriate after the election," the representative said in a statement. "These changes are being made independent of any other ongoing matter.”
However, one person close to Francis says she has been fired.
Francis had been working at Fox News without a contract for nearly a year. She had filed a gender-based pay discrimination claim against the company that has been in arbitration, according to one person familiar with the proceedings.
The complaint said Francis was underpaid compared with her male colleagues. A Fox News representative would not comment on the matter, saying it was confidential.
Francis did not respond to a request for comment.
The pay flap comes as Fox News has tried to improve its workplace environment for women since the firing of its founding chief executive, Roger Ailes, in 2016 over sexual harassment claims made by former anchor Gretchen Carlson. The seminal moment in the #MeToo movement led to the ouster of its prime-time star, Bill O'Reilly.
Fox News did revamp mandatory harassment and discrimination prevention compliance training, and was recently certified by the research firm Great Places to Work. The network acted quickly in firing longtime anchor Ed Henry earlier this year following a harassment complaint from a female colleague.
Francis is a former child actress who had a role on the classic 1980s family drama "Little House on the Prairie." She earned an economics degree from Harvard and went on to be a correspondent and anchor for NBCUniversal's financial news channel CNBC.
Francis joined Fox Business Network as an anchor in 2012 and started appearing on Fox News' "Outnumbered" as a recurring co-host in 2014.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.