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NY1 anchor Roma Torre speaks at the 20th anniversary of the New York City news channel on October 11, 2012. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for NY1)
NY1 anchor Roma Torre speaks at the 20th anniversary of the New York City news channel on October 11, 2012. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for NY1)

'Expiration date'

Five anchorwomen sue cable channel for gender and age discrimination

By WITW Staff on June 20, 2019

This past May, Roma Torre won an Emmy Award for her theater commentary on NY1, a popular cable channel in New York. NY1 posted a Twitter photo of Torre giving her acceptance speech, but in the foreground of the image was male anchor Pat Kiernan — an incident that, according to a new lawsuit, is exemplary of a workplace culture that discriminates against female anchors as they age.

According to The New York Times, Torre and four other female anchors — Amanda Farinacci, Vivian Lee, Jeanine Ramirez, and Kristen Shaughnessy — are suing Charter Communications, the company that owns NY1, for allegedly pushing them off the air in favor of younger, less experienced employees. The plaintiffs, who range in age from 40 to 61, allege that male anchors are not subjected to the same treatment.

“We feel we are being railroaded out of the place,” Torre told the Times. “Men age on TV with a sense of gravitas, and we as women have an expiration date.”

The five women say that Charter’s leadership has reduced their airtime, excluded them from promotional campaigns, and dismissed their concerns about their treatment. They cite numerous examples to illustrate their complaints. Torre, for instance, says that her solo anchoring and co-anchoring time has been cut back. Although she is one of the network’s longest tenured anchors, she reportedly earns less than half the salary of Kiernan, who has been with NY1 for less time.

And while NY1 celebrated Kiernan’s 20th year at the network with ad campaigns, food trucks, and television segments, “Ms. Torre, by contrast, with a longer tenure and celebrating 25 years on air with her own daily live show, received no special promotion whatsoever,” the suit claims.

Lee, who has been with NY1 for more than 10 years, alleges that after her weekly show was canceled, Charter leadership denied her opportunities to fill in for other anchors. Separately, Farinacci says she was not asked to be the moderator of an NY1 town hall event based on her reporting; the role was instead given to a male anchor, Anthony Pascale.

A Charter spokeswoman, Maureen Huff, said that more than half of NY1’s on-air talent is female, and more than half is over 40. “We take these allegations seriously, and as we complete our thorough review, we have not found any merit to them,” she said in a statement, according to the Times. “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.”

The plaintiffs contend that this has not been their experience at NY1. “I’m faced with the feeling of what it’s like to be edged out,” Lee told the Times. “It’s really heartbreaking.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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