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Five New York anchorwomen sue for age and gender discrimination

Five New York anchorwomen sue for age and gender discrimination
[Photo: maxcam2008/iStock]

If you live in New York City, NY1 is the 24-hour local channel where you get your news. The on-air anchors tell viewers about local politics, weather and traffic, real estate development, and whatever the main stories of the day happen to be.

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Today, five longtime NY1 anchorwomen were the main story. At Manhattan federal court, they’ve filed a lawsuit accusing the station of age and gender discrimination, saying they were marginalized by management in favor of younger, less qualified female colleagues.

The women involved in the suit are well-known to NY1 watchers: Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee, Amanda Farinacci, and Roma Torre, who was NY1′s first on-air hire, way back in 1992. She told the New York Times that the women feel like they “are being railroaded out of the place” and that “women have an expiration date.”

The age and gender discrimination allegedly worsened after cable giant Charter-Spectrum took over NY1’s parent company, Time Warner Cable, in 2016, and went on what the New York Daily News characterized as a “bloodbath,” axing over a dozen longtime staffers. According to the Times, “the revamp extended to sweeping out older women among the on-air talent.”

After the Charter takeover, the women found their on-air time and anchoring spots cut, kept out of promotional campaigns, and when they complained, their concerns were consistently ignored, the women allege. New Yorkers may find it particularly shocking to learn that, according to the lawsuit, Torre’s salary is “less than half that of [Pat] Kiernan,” the well-known NY1 morning anchor. In May, when Torre won a local Emmy Award for her work, NY1’s Twitter account posted a photograph of her accepting the prize—with Kiernan in front of her. Per the suit, the tweet was a “blatant” example of “NY1’s favoritism toward Mr. Kiernan at Ms. Torre’s expense.”

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for NY1 gave Fast Company the following statement:

“We take these allegations seriously and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them. 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.”

According to a statement from the women’s attorney, it was made clear to the women 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.” It all brings to mind the Amy Schumer sketch about how Hollywood favors younger women.

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