MANHATTAN (CN) – Five top female anchors and reporters for NY1 denounced the local news broadcaster in a federal lawsuit on Wednesday for attempting to “cast them aside” in favor of younger women and men.
“Sadly, it is hardly a novel occurrence that the media fails to showcase professional older women in on-air positions, instead favoring younger women and men,” the 62-page complaint notes, citing a New York Times investigation titled “The Fight to Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor.”
Roma Torre, a 61-year-old anchor and theater critic, said that she identified with the women quoted in that article. She leads a group of four other women—Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee and Amanda Fainacci—who collectively put in more than 100 years at the network, according to the complaint filed by attorney Douglas Wigdor.
“To say Ms. Torre, Ms. Shaughnessy, Ms. Ramirez, Ms. Lee and Ms. Farinacci have had impressive journalistic careers at NY1 would be a drastic understatement,” the lawsuit states. “They have received dozens of awards, honors and accolades for their excellence in journalism. For years, NY1 recognized their contributions by providing them with numerous opportunities to advance and showcase their skills.”
“Unfortunately, that would all change,” it continues.
What changed, the women allege, was the channel’s ownership from Time Warner Cable’s merger with Charter in 2016, creating one of the top TV conglomerates in the United States.
“Shortly thereafter, NY1 underwent a massive overhaul and restructuring in which numerous long-tenured, older employees (men and women) were terminated, including some well-known on-air personalities,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in original.)
The New York Daily News would describe that overhaul as a “Bloodbath at NY1” in a headline roughly a year later.
Charter’s spokeswoman Maureen Huff disputed the allegations against the company.
“We take these allegations seriously and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them,” Huff wrote in an email. “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 the merger’s wake, the women say, the channel’s entire complexion took a turn—literally.
The lawsuit contains before-and-after photographs of NY1 news team, noting the women became younger, whiter and blonder.
Charts supplementing the lawsuit also show the plaintiffs’ weekday morning anchor fill-ins dropped drastically after the merger.