Tuesday, July 30, 2019

NY1: Ageist and Sexist Lawsuit? (June 2019)


NY1 may be the first thing viewers see when they wake up and the last thing they listen to when they fall asleep; but behind the scenes is where the actual news can be found. On June 19, 2019 five former female anchors of NY1 sued Charter Communications (the station’s parent company) for age and gender discrimination. They claim that the station prefers the presence of men and younger women on their channel. The five women range in ages of forty to sixty-one are Roma Torre, Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee, and Amanda Farinacci.Women in broadcasting are not usually likely to openly complain about discrimination, especially while still having employment at the station. These women are being very open about their case and requesting a trial by jury to bring awareness to the mostly male leadership that suffocates women in the workplace. They have banded together has five individual women that want to represent women all over the industry who have been hushed into settlements.


There are many stakeholders that businesses interact with. These include employees, business’ vendors, customers, and members of community/society. Due to the interactions, businesses have a social responsibility to each stakeholder as explained by each of the ethical theories below. In this case of gender and age discrimination, the five news anchors (Roma Torre, Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee, and Amanda Farinacci) are the first and most important stakeholders. Also, it is believed that the young girls that watch and follow this news station are second-handedly affected. This is because they must know that influential women in the broadcasting profession are the target of discrimination. Lastly, the individuals that work at NY1 that are being thrown into the mix of a hostile and discriminatory workplace.


Ethical Individualism (aka Economic Theory) is a philosophy of egocentric ideals. These include the right to make individual choices and have individual precedence over the social responsibility.Individualism in this controversy would side with the decisions of the company. They first and foremost owe their obligation to themselves and the organization. Under this morality spectrum, it is believed that the women are pawns in the game of the corporation as long as their profit continues within the law. As of current, the courts have not decided whether or not this is a violation of anti-discrimination laws, so they can continue to run their broadcast in their best interests. They have every right to make changes based on what is best for the company and will keep them in the running for a high-rated television newscaster. However, the women are also coming from an Individualistic standpoint because they are looking out for their own best interests rather than what is making the most money for their employers and the company they continue to work for.


Utilitarianism is a moral theory that believes actions are morally permissible if they produce as much happiness as any other available action. If an action does not bring the most happiness to those affected, it is considered morally wrong. People who value the utilitarian framework would find that the actions of NY1 and Charter were unethical to those whose happiness was jeopardized by said actions. The five anchors who were affected by the discrimination did not end up happy as their male counterparts and younger female coworkers were promoted. In fact, the actions of NY1 negatively affected all those involved including the company. They are now receiving a negative viewer response on their channel and must face the consequences of their immoral actions. 


Kant and the ethical framework that follows his beliefs, would feel that NY1 selfishly manipulated the stakeholders in order to transform the face of their on-air news talent. Kant (the German philosopher) believed that there is a higher principle of morality that he called ‘The Categorical Imperative (aka the formula for humanity). This lawsuit under the microscope of Kantianism does not fulfill the duty. The actions of Charter and NY1 to slowly demote the five anchors are unjustified because it overturns their positions and the hard work they had given the channel for so many years. There is no grey area when it comes to the rights and wrongs of the Categorical Imperative. (Bayer, P. B. 415) Even though Charter had a spokesperson (who so conveniently happened to be woman) speak out about the rationality of their actions and the justification of the discrimination, it does not dismiss the immorality of their sexism and ageism. It does not matter that Charter believed it best to slowly replace these women with younger versions or male coworkers because nobody should be manipulated to benefit someone else. The station tried to counter the accusations by claiming they had motivation by “giving a chance” to a younger generation and increasing their views daily, but it is invalid if others are still being mistreated or harmed due to the actions. 

Virtue Theory-

Virtue theory focuses mainly on the characteristics of the person rather than the actions they perform which can help to find the definition of what makes someone a good or bad person. In order for someone to determine whether something is a good or bad it must first be determined what it means to be a virtuous person rather than focusing on their actions. There are moral virtues that can one can inhabit to maintain over their lifetime of virtuous human function: Courage, Truthfulness, Friendliness, and Generosity. Virtue theory ethical rule states "Act so as to embody a variety of virtuous or good character traits and so as to avoid vicious or bad character traits." (Salazar. 22) When it comes to courage, NY1 was lacking because the way they handled their affairs such as demoting the women was in a cowardice way. Instead of openly telling them what the plan was, they gaslighted and humiliated the women. Having their spokesperson openly say they are concerned about the accusations against them, shows a lack of truth. If the channel cared so much, they would have truthfully made statements about the p

ay gap between the men and women anchors at NY1.
When the women filed their suit against Charter, the company made claims that the women are often “hard to work with”. This is not a virtuous trait portrayed by the company. Not only did they discriminate against the five older women for their gender and age, but they wrongfully began to slander them to other journalists (eventually reaching the press). Lastly, the lack of generosity on the part of the broadcasting station is something to be harsh and cruel. They simply cut the women out of their positions without any prior knowledge. After all their years of commitment and hard work, they were cast aside without any explanation.


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Ramey, C. (2019). NY1 Anchorwomen Sue Station for Age, Sex Discrimination. [online] WSJ. Available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/ny1-anchorwomen-sue-station-for-age-sex-discrimination-11560966726.

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