Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Is Nothing Sacred? Age Discrimination at the Weather Channel

Or at least that is what 41 year Marny Midkiff claims following her termination from the Weather Channel. According to the Career Journal story, A Former Weathercaster Files Charges of Age Bias, Exhibit A will be a staff meeting, videotaped for the convenience of those who could not be there. Among the comments of the programming chief, now recorded for all time:
Mr. Connelly cites market research suggesting that female viewers find the network's female meteorologists to be "matronly," "dowdy," "bland" and "nun-like." He tells women who appear on-camera, "you are in the television business, and you should understand. ... you will be picked apart far more than a male. ... women pick apart women. They kind of just accept men the way they are." The bulk of the hourlong meeting shows Mr. Connelly and a consultant discussing standard on-camera appearance issues, including wardrobe pointers. He explains that in the past, the channel had wanted "the Brooks Brothers look." Standing in front of a poster labeled "diversity," Mr. Connelly pans an outfit worn by a female newscaster on Fox News. "I would bet she is in her early 30s, and she looks late 40s," he says. "That's what clothes can do to you. Do you want to look old?"
The television industry has seen its share of similar litigation over the years, but the weather channel?

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