Female news anchors at NY1 have filed a gender and age discrimination lawsuit.
Five anchorwomen at NY1 have filed a lawsuit against the the network over age and gender discrimination, alleging “a systematic effort by managers to force them off the air in favor of younger, less experienced hosts.” Their lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The female plaintiffs are aged 40 to 61 and include Roma Torre, one of the channel’s most prominent anchors who has been with NY1 since its inception in 1992.
“We feel we are being railroaded out of the place,” Torre, 61, said. “Men age on TV with a sense of gravitas, and we as women have an expiration date.”
She and her female co-plaintiffs, which include Vivian Lee, Amanda Farinacci, Jeanine Ramirez, and Kristen Shaughnessy, said the leadership team at the network “reduced their airtime and anchoring slots, excluded them from promotional campaigns and consistently ignored their concerns.”
“At some point, we were branded malcontents and told to stop complaining,” Torre said.
When Charter purchased Time Warner Cable, NY1’s parent company, it laid off a dozen of the network’s longtime anchors and invested in building a new set for the “Mornings on 1” and in updating the graphics. This modernization was a noticeable overhaul to a station that had established a hometown feel throughout the years based largely on the familiarity of studio and associated visuals viewers had come to love.
Vivian Lee, 44, joined as an anchor in 2008 mainly because of its original charm. “They weren’t the big networks,” she said. “They’re stating the value they place on experience and community-driven news…Until Charter came in, that feeling was there.”
The anchorwomen’s lawsuit alleges that after Lee’s weekly “Spotlight” was canceled at the beginning of this year, managers demoted her and reduced her opportunities to fill in for weekday anchors.
“I’m faced with the feeling of what it’s like to be edged out,” Lee said. “It’s really heartbreaking.”
Torre has alleged her on-air presence began to dwindle after Charter took over and her hours decreased from three to just one. According to the lawsuit, her salary pales in comparison to her male co-anchor, Pat Kiernan.
“Ms. Torre’s salary is less than half that of Mr. Kiernan,” the lawsuit alleges. It also claims, “Ms. Torre was barred from using the makeup artists provided for Mr. Kiernan’s show, and that when she asked to use his revamped studio, a manager told her to stop complaining.”
The female co-plaintiffs are represented by Douglas Wigdor. “Our five clients have clearly been told that their careers are over, as NY1 seems to believe that younger faces, when it comes to women, are a ‘better look’ for the bottom line,” he said.
“We take these allegations seriously, and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them,” Charter Communications spokesperson Maureen Huff said. “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.”
“In Hollywood and the media, the perceived wisdom is that there’s discrimination against older employees, particularly women, because employers want to put forward a younger face,” said David Lopez, a former general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). “That’s discrimination, in my book.”