Veteran Reporter Files Complaint Against WTIC, Alleges Repeated Discrimination Against ‘Older’ Female Anchors and Reporters

By Andrew Gauthier 

A complaint was filed yesterday with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) by veteran political reporter Shelly Sindland of WTIC-TV. In the complaint, Sindland, who has been with Fox 61 in Hartford for 14 years, accuses the station of repeated acts of age and gender discrimination and alleges that male managers within the organization repeatedly engaged in inappropriate behavior around female staff members.

In a post to her personal blog yesterday, Sindland wrote that her decision to move forward with the complaint “comes with great sadness.” She went on to describe her motivation, saying, “I am doing this for my daughter as well as the other women at the television station both young and ‘old.'”

The complaint comes after the station allegedly offered Sindland a new contract that will effectively decrease her salary by 18%. Within the complaint, Sindland provides in-depth detail of a newsroom culture that repeatedly championed a youthful sense of sexuality in its female anchors and reports.

During a meeting with reporters and anchors on January 30, 2009, Fox 61 New Director Bob Rockstroh stated that the Friday newscasts looked like Big Boob Fridays, and the stations ratings were up on Fridays as a result of at least one female reporter wearing a tighter shirt. In response to this, then-General Manager Rich Graziano stated, according to the complaint, Hey, whatever works.

In another instance detailed in the complaint, the station held a photo shoot for several of its news anchors to be used in promotional pieces. According to Sindland, the female anchors were instructed to be more “sexy.”

Sindland’s alleged salary decrease is one case in what appears to be a pattern of demotions and departures of older female on-air talent. The complaint includes information about the demotion of then-34-year-old anchor Rebecca Stewart and the departure of longtime anchor Susan Christensen.
For more information… (via Steven D. Kalb)