Five veteran female anchors and correspondents at NY1, the local-news outlet that appears on cable systems owned by Charter Communications in New York City, filed a suit Wednesday alleging they have been "repeatedly marginalized and relegated to second-class status" since Charter took over the outlet's operations after acquiring the assets of the former Time Warner Cable.
The five plaintiffs - Roma Torre, 61, who has worked at NY1 for 27 years; Kristen Shaughnessy, 50, a 24-year veteran; Jeanine Ramirez, 49, a 23-year employee; Vivian Lee, 44, who has worked at NY1 for 11 years; and Amanda Farinacci, 40, who has been with NY1 for 19 years - alleged complaints they have made to human resources "have been ignored, dismissed and disregarded." They filed a suit in U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York that seeks damages and injunctive relief.
In a statement, Charter dismissed the claims. "We take these allegations seriously and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them," the company 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." Charter acquired Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion in May of 2016.
"The question is not how many women there are, but where and when they appear on air," said Douglas Wigdor, the attorney leading the plaintiffs' case. " Unfortunately, it is men and younger women that are getting the top anchor positions and time slots while older women are pushed aside and marginalized."
Wigdor's law firm in 2017 represented several employees of Fox News Channel in suits that alleged discriminatory behavior at that company. Fox News has overhauled its human-resources staff and put new policies in place at its business since its former top executive, Roger Ailes, was ousted after claims of sexual harassment were levied at him in 2016. Ailes denied the allegations.
Charter has faced another legal challenge since taking over the New York cable business. In April, it settled a case with the New York Public Service Commission, which said it was prepared to push Charter from operating in New York, charging it had unacceptable levels of service. acquisition.
In the suit, the five women offer individual accounts of telling supervisors they are not getting equal treatment or equal time on air. "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," the five women said in a statement. "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."
The suit marks the latest legal salvo at the internal culture of some of the industry's most prominent news operations. CBS News and NBC News have in recent years also come under scrutiny after allegations of harassment and difficult workplace environments came to the public eye.