These Female Anchors and Reporters Are Suing Their Employer For Discrimination
In June 2019, five female anchors and reporters at the New York cable news network NY1 filed a lawsuit for gender and age discrimination against Charter Communications, Inc., NY1’s owner. In the lawsuit, the employees — Roma Torre, Amanda Farinacci, Vivian Lee, Jeanine Ramirez, and Kristen Shaughnessy — claim that NY1 “blatantly marginalized them” and “cast them aside” to give opportunities to younger women. Since the women filed the lawsuit, VICE recently reported, they have experienced more behavior from their employer that makes them feel isolated and sidelined.
The women, who are now working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, say their work environment was deteriorating in quality long before the virus.
“The workplace is increasingly hostile since we’ve filed our lawsuit,” Jeanine Ramirez told VICE. “There are managers among the top ranks who refuse to acknowledge us.”
In a statement provided to VICE, Charter Communications and NY1 spokesperson Stacey Mitch denied that the plaintiffs had been discriminated against since filing the lawsuit.
“We reject these claims of retaliation,” Mitch said. “We are committed to fostering a fair, inclusive, and respectful work environment at NY1 and take allegations of discrimination seriously. All five plaintiffs remain actively employed and appear regularly on-air.”
Toni Van Pelt, the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), told Supermajority News that she is not at all surprised by the discrimination women say is going on in their newsroom.
“A lot of employers and companies are scared of what will happen to their reputation if people knew what happened behind closed doors, which is why so many make employees sign non-disclosure agreements,” Van Pelt said. “We must eliminate this fear of retaliation for speaking out about discrimination, harassment, or, even worse, assault. Organizations need to properly supply training and resources to management and staff and make sure there is a clear process in which any discretions or violations can be reported. And of course, perpetrators —especially those in positions of power—need to be held accountable for their actions.”
NY1 is hardly the first newsroom that has been hit with allegations of both ageism and sexism in recent years. As Steve Cavendish wrote in The New York Times last year, “there is no fighting sexism on television without fighting the ageism that goes along with it.” In his op-ed, Cavendish discussed the irony that media giant Meredith, which owns such publications as People, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, and several television stations, was the first company to sign on to the #SeeHer initiative, a gender equity campaign led by the Association of National Advertisers. At the same time in 2018, Meredith was being sued by Demetria Kalodimos, a Nashville broadcast journalist, for age discrimination.
Van Pelt added that the women at NY1 are doing a difficult thing by pinpointing the problems in their workplace: “Speaking truth to power is not easy, especially when you are shining a light on the cultural norms that have allowed sexism and ageism for way too long.”