Another media company is now having to field lawsuits from its own employees.
Charter Communications is being sued by five female news anchors from its powerhouse local news network, Spectrum News NY1, for age and gender discrimination: Mid-day anchor Roma Torre, anchor/reporter Kristen Shaughnessy, Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez, anchor/reporter Vivian Lee and Staten Island reporter Amanda Farinacci.
Torre, Shaughnessy, Ramirez, Lee and Farinacci–who have collectively worked for NY1 for more than 100 years– have released the following statement:
“Women on TV should accurately reflect women in society and be celebrated at every age, not treated like decoration that can be disposed and replaced with a newer version. We have poured our hearts and souls into our work at NY1, but in the end we have been left excluded, marginalized and vulnerable. We are fighting for ourselves and all other women who face this same struggle on a daily basis, and we hope to send a clear message to all news media across the country that this must change.”
On behalf of the five plaintiffs, Wigdor LLP filed the age and discrimination lawsuit in the Southern District of New York this morning. If the name Douglas Wigdor sounds familiar, it’s because he is the attorney who represented Fox News anchors and contributors in their respective sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits against the company in 2017 and 2018.
Wigdor and Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox reached a $10 million settlement in May 2018 to resolve a group of 20 cases of racial and gender discrimination lawsuits involving 18 current and former employees at FNC.
We will hold NY1 accountable for their blatant ageist and sexist views and intend to send a message across all media that this epidemic of discrimination toward older women must come to an end. We are confident that New Yorkers will rally behind our clients knowing that merit and ability are how people ought to be judged.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ careers began a “demonstrable, precipitous decline” beginning in 2016, after Charter merged with Time Warner Cable.
Ever since NY1 was taken over by Charter in 2016, Plaintiffs’ then-blossoming careers have wilted – namely, their on-air time has been dramatically reduced, anchoring opportunities have disappeared, prime reporting roles have been taken away and promotional efforts have vanished. All these opportunities which have been snatched from Plaintiffs have been distributed to numerous younger women and men with substantially less experience.
The lawsuit cites the March 11, 2019 New York Times opinion piece titled The Fight to Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor, which addresses age discrimination in the news media.
The women are demanding a jury trial. It remains to be seen if that happens.
A Charter spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
“We take these allegations seriously and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them. NY1 is a respectful and fair workplace and we’re committed to providing a work environment in which all our employees are valued and empowered.”
Here’s a copy of the complaint: