Three former veteran newscasters at WSMV-TV News Channel 4 have filed an age-discrimination lawsuit in federal district court in Nashville.
The former popular news personalities are Dennis Ferrier, Jennifer Johnson and Nancy Van Camp. The Meredith Corporation, the station owner, denies the allegations.
“This case sheds light on some ugly truths about what is happening at Channel 4,” said attorney Brian Winfrey of Morgan & Morgan in a news release issued by the law firm Tuesday. “My clients are accomplished professionals. They don’t deserve this treatment after decades of dedicating their careers to Channel 4.”
According to the lawsuit, station management in 2015 began a pattern of hostile behavior toward older broadcasters. Comments were made about getting rid of the “old timers” and hiring “faces that appeal to a younger demographic.” The suit alleges that a news director would say of Ferrier, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
A number of employees over 40 were removed and replaced by younger employees between 2015 and 2016, the suit says. In addition to ridicule, the workplace hostility included unfair job scrutiny and adverse job assignments, the suit alleges.
Ferrier, Johnson and Van Camp were all forced off the air. Ferrier is now a Fox 17 news reporter.
The lawsuit asks the court to require the station to reinstate each plaintiff to full-time positions and provide back pay, and to stop engaging in age discrimination.
Meredith Corporation issued a statement quoting Paul Karpowicz, president of the Meredith Local Media Group. The statement said:
We have been made aware of a lawsuit filed by three former employees concerning employment decisions made more than a year ago. This suit is in addition to one filed in May 2017 by an individual employed by WSMV-TV several years ago. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims have no merit and note that each of the former employees’ associations with WSMV ended following their respective employment contracts, and for reasons that were unique to each of them. 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. That is simply not true.