Five female anchors and reporters at cable news channel NY1 have sued the network’s parent Charter Communications, claiming age and gender bias.
In the suit, filed June 19 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the five women -- anchors Roma Torre, Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee and Amanda Farinacci -- claim NY1 “blatantly marginalized them and cast them aside in favor of younger women and men, in a transparent effort to reshape the appearance of the on-air talent.”
The five women claim that since Charter took over NY1 in 2016 -- after it closed its purchase of Time Warner Cable -- their “once-blossoming careers have wilted” as their air-time was reduced, anchoring opportunities vanished and prime reporting roles and promotional opportunities were taken away. All of these opportunities, they say, were given to younger women and men with substantially less experience.
In a statement Charter said that more than half of its NY1 on-air talent is over 40 years of age and more than half are female.
“We take these allegations seriously, and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them,” Charter said in its statement. “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 published reports, the lawyer for the plaintiff, Douglas Wigdor, has said the number of women working at NY1 isn’t the point.
“The question is not how many women there are, but where and when they appear on air,” Wigdor said in a statement to Deadline.com. “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.”
Throughout the suit, the plaintiffs cited instances where male anchors were given newer studio facilities, assistants and better resources.
The plaintiffs range in age from 40 to 61 years old and have a combined 100 years experience at NY1. They say they have repeatedly complained to higher ups and human resources, only to have their complaints dismissed.
Torre, 61, was NY1’s first on-air hire in 1992 and has anchored high-profile shows like Inside City Hall. Prior to Charter taking over, she said she averaged about 6 hours of air-time per day. That was drastically reduced in mid-2017 when NY1 rolled out a new schedule that reduced Torre’s air-time hours to two slots -- one hour of live solo air-time for a 12 p.m. show called Your News Live at Noon and two hours later in the day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- from her previous 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. slots.
Charter said that Torre remains the anchor at Live at Noon, and that over the years it has added more live content at different hours, so it is possible that viewers are seeing less of her, but that the content production hasn't decreased.
"The show was built around Roma as the anchor, underscoring her importance and prominence at NY1," Charter said in a statement.
The women are hoping for a jury trial to settle the dispute.