Ex-Tennessee TV news personalities file ageism lawsuit
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three former Tennessee on-air news personalities have sued their old station, claiming station officials discriminated against them because of their ages.
Former WSMV-TV anchor Jennifer Johnson, ex-meteorologist Nancy Van Camp and ex-reporter Dennis Ferrier filed the lawsuit against parent company Meredith Corporation this week in U.S. District Court in Nashville.
According to the lawsuit, WSMV-TV removed many veteran on-air personalities starting in 2015, as managers mentioned dropping “the old timers” and bringing in “faces that appeal to a younger demographic,” ″new blood” and “fresh faces.” The lawsuit says the three newscasters, in addition to several others who were pushed out, were “targets of a persistent pattern and practice of age discrimination, harassment, hostility, and retaliation.”
Paul Karpowicz, Meredith Local Media Group president, told The Tennessean that the claims by the ex-employees aren’t true.
“While we do not discuss personnel matters publicly out of respect for the individuals, it is unfortunate that they have decided to suggest that their age or gender was a factor in their respective departures, or that they were mistreated in any way,” Karpowicz told the newspaper. “That is simply not true.”
The lawsuit says Johnson was demoted to reporter, given undesirable and burdensome work, and told 10 months before her contract expired that it would not be renewed.
Van Camp’s contract wasn’t renewed, but she was retained as an at-will employee until someone younger was found, the lawsuit says.
Ferrier, who admitted a minor on-air misstatement, was fired after complaining about workplace hostilities, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit requests that the three be reinstated to full-time jobs with back pay and benefits, in addition to other damages and fees.