Five NY1 presenters, including longtime New York television personality Roma Torre, are leaving the local news network after settling an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against the beloved local media institution.
“After a long dialogue with NY1, we believe it is in the interests of everyone – ours, NY1 and our viewers – that this dispute be resolved and we have agreed to split up,” said Ms. Torre along with her Co-plaintiffs Amanda Farinacci, Vivian Lee, Jeanine Ramirez and Kristen Shaughnessy wrote in a statement on Thursday.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The announcement ended a long legal saga that began in June 2019 when the anchor women, who were between 40 and 61 years old at the time, sued NY1’s parent company, cable company Charter Communications, for being forced out of the air and rejected managers who preferred younger and less experienced hosts.
The presenters’ decision to leave NY1 entirely was a staggering result for many viewers, including Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
“2020 was a year of loss and NY1 has just lost five of its best reporters,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “This is an enormous loss for all of your viewers.”
For New Yorkers who revered NY1 as a publicly accessible public space for the five boroughs – with gracious anchors that were part of the all-in-the-neighborhood charm – the discrimination lawsuit persisted. In the legal complaint, Ms. Torre, a signature-on-air presence that joined the network in early 1992, described her frustration at what she thought of including NY1’s more favorable treatment of the station’s star morning anchor, Pat Kiernan The advertising campaign and a new studio that they are not allowed to use were sparkling.
Charter executives responded that the lawsuit and allegations were unfounded and described NY1 as “a respectful and fair place to work.” The company found that another longtime female presenter, Cheryl Wills, had been named to host a prominent weekday newscast as part of a network redesign.
On Thursday, Charter, based in Stamford, Connecticut, said it was “pleased” with the solution to the anchor women’s suit. “We would like to thank you for your years of dedicated service in reporting the news to New Yorkers and wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” Charter said in a statement.
Ms. Torre and the other plaintiffs continued to air their regular slots in NY1 during the pending lawsuit. But occasionally tensions arose.
Earlier this month, the New York Post wrote about an attorney’s request to journalists that Charter reveal Mr. Kiernan’s contract as a means of determining his salary. (The claim was denied.) Another lawsuit accused Mr. Kiernan’s talent agent of attempting to intimidate Ms. Torre by telling her brother the lawsuit should be dropped, an allegation the agent denied.
The women were represented by Douglas H. Wigdor, a prominent Manhattan attorney who has filed discrimination lawsuits against large corporations like Citigroup, Fox News, and Starbucks.
The lawsuit also touched upon greater tensions in the television news business, an industry where older women often make careers when male colleagues thrive. In the world of New York television, the case brought to mind Sue Simmons, the popular WNBC TV host who was ousted in 2012 and whose longtime co-host Chuck Scarborough continues to be a star of the station.
“We feel like we are being withdrawn,” Ms. Torre told the New York Times in 2019 when the lawsuit was first filed. “Men age with a feeling of heaviness on television, and we as women have an expiration date.”