You are on page 1of 16

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

PHRC Case No.


FLORA POSTERARO, EEOC Case No.
Complainant,

NEXSTAR MEDIA GROUP, INC. and


ROBERT BEE
Res ondents.
COMPLAINT

JURISDICTION

1. Jurisdiction is pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act 43 P.S.

951 et seq.

PARTIES

2. The Complainant herein is:

Flora Posteraro

3. The Respondents are:

Nexstar Media Group, Inc.


545 E. John Cmpenter Freeway
Suite 700
Irving, TX 75062

Robert Bee

1
3235 Hoffman Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110 FACTS

4. Complainant Flora Posteraro ("Posteraro") is an adult individual and an

"employee" as defined under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43

P.S. 951 et seq. and Title Vll.

5. Respondent Nexstar Media Group, Inc. (the "Company") is an entity

engaged in an industry affecting commerce having four or more employees within the

Commonwealth and is an "employer" as defined under the PHRA and Title VII.

6. Respondent Robert Bee ("Bee") is an adult individual who was

Posteraro's supervisor during the relevant time period, and the General Manager of

ABC27, the Company's television station where Posteraro was employed as a news

anchor (the "Station").

7. Posteraro is an experienced news broadcaster. Her first broadcasting job

out of college was as a weekend anchor/reporter at a station in Clarksburg, West

Virginia.

A few months later, she was promoted to the weekday anchor role at 6 p.m. and 11

p.m. Following Clarksburg, Posteraro also served as the weekday anchor at 6 p.m. and

11 p.m.

in Johnstown and then Wilkes-Barre. In 1990, she began working as a reporter at WPVI

in Philadelphia, then the fourth largest market in the country. In 1995, Posteraro was

promoted to weekend anchor with reporting responsibilities during the week.

8. Posteraro joined the Station on August 11, 1997 as a TV Anchor/Reporter.

2
9. From August 11, 1997 until March 12, 2018, when her employment was

terminated, or in the alternative, when she was constructively discharged, Posteraro

was co-anchor of the Station's "News at Five" and "News at Noon."

10. Her normal shift was Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and her

duties included, but were not limited to, anchoring the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts,

reporting on special segments (including Focus on Family and Healthy High 5),

writing stories, editing, proofing other reporters' scripts, attending promotional events

for the Station, public appearances, engaging on social media, and mentoring younger

employees.

11. Over her more than 20-year tenure with the Station, Posteraro won

many awards, including Emmys for anchoring and reporting, Associated Press awards

for reporting, and numeröus awards in recognition for her work with the community

and non-profits.

12. In January 2017, the Company completed its acquisition of the Station.

At that time, the Company engaged Bee as the new General Manager.

13. Almost immediately, Bee showed his penchant for partiality by

demanding that the female on-air talent discard their fashionable sleeveless dresses as

"no one wants to look at flabby arms," and by using the Station's funds to purchase

new ties for the male reporters and anchors, while the female anchors and reporters

were required to purchase their new wardrobe without reimbursement. In response,

Posteraro respectfully challenged Bee's wardrobe requirements and treatment of

female employees.

3
In June 2017, Bee decided that female anchors who worked evening shifts

would fill in for the morning anchors. While it was not unusual for anchors to

substitute for each other as needed, it was unusual that this policy applied only to the

female anchors, and not the male anchors. As a result, female anchors filling in for the

morning anchors would be required to work a split shift from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. and, at a

minimum from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was not until Posteraro objected that this change

unfairly burdened and discriminated against the female anchors that Bee added a male

anchor to the substitute rotation. After Bee reluctantly added a male anchor to the

rotation of filling in, Bee praised and thanked that male anchor publicly for his

sacrifice while ignoring the burden he had placed on the female anchors who already

had been filling in.

15. On July 15, 2017, the Station's News Director departed. At that time, upon

information and belief, Station management — including Bee — had only discussed

the options of keeping Amanda St. Hilaire in the weekend anchor role and moving the

11

p.m. weekday male anchor and reporter Mike Parker to a weekend anchor position. At

that time, upon information and belief, there was no discussion or consideration given

to moving Posteraro to the weekend anchor position.

16. In the news broadcast business, weekend anchoring is considered less

desirable than weekday anchoring, as it involves fewer on air appearances coupled

with fewer viewers, among other matters.

17. By August 2017, Bee had publicly referred to another female anchor as

a "mean bitch," told the at-the-time news director that a female reporter looked like a

4
"fat pig" on air, made uncomfoftable racial and sexual comments about the morning

anchors, had described women who did not follow his restrictive dress code as "street

walkers," and said those who defied his dress code "would pay" for challenging him.

Upon information and belief, Bee had shown a similar pattern of behavior at the

Nexstar-owned station in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market, where he worked as

General Manager before his promotion to the Station.

18. Posteraro repeatedly and respectfully stood up to Bee and opposed his

near daily disrespectful and disparaging treatment of women. When another female

anchor, Amanda St. Hilaire, began speaking up to Bee and refusing to allow his

behavior to continue unchallenged, Bee asked St. Hilaire if Posteraro "put her up to it."

19. In or around August 3, 2017, Posteraro participated in what was

supposed to be an anonymous complaint to human resources about Bee's

discrimination against women and the hostile work environment said discrimination

created.

20. The new News Director commenced work around August 8, 2017.

21. The Human Resources investigation commenced, and Posteraro was

interviewed in or around August 17, 2018 or August 18, 2018.

22. Upon information and belief, Bee knew that Posteraro participated in

the anonymous complaint and the investigation.

23. In a conversation with Posteraro in September 2017, the News Director

stated that he was not aware of any anchor changes and there were no plans for anchor

changes in the works.

5
24. In October 2017, the Station hosted three focus groups.

25. Upon information and belief, the Station conducted its own focus

groups, rather than following the industry standard of hiring an independent research

firm.

Further, it is believed and therefore averred that the focus group clips were selectively

picked to a predetermined outcome. Further, the focus groups did not utilize clips

of all of the anchors. The clips did not include the weekend anchors, or the morning

anchors. Rather, the focus groups saw a clip of a newscast with the 6 p.m. anchor

team, and individual clips of Posteraro, her co-anchor, and Mike Parker.

26. In November 2017, Posteraro approached the News Director about the

status of her contract renegotiation, as her contract was set to expire on December 24,

2017.

27. The News Director confirmed that her contract would be renewed. He

advised that he would reach out to Bee and get back to Posteraro. When Posteraro

followed up several times over the following weeks, the News Director informed her

that he was waiting to hear from Bee. The News Director eventually advised Posteraro

that the contract was tied up with the Station's budget, which was not finalized, and

that the Station would be in touch after the holidays to begin negotiations. He further

indicated that he preferred "not to do business this way" but that his "hands were tied."

6
28. In prior years, Posteraro's contracts were negotiated months in advance

of the expiration and they had never been held up with the excuse that they were tied

to a budget.

29. Despite the absence of the contract, Posteraro continued to anchor the

weekday noon and 5 p.m. broadcasts.

30. On January 31, 2018, the News Director informed Posteraro that

although the Station was offering her a two-year contract at the same rate of pay,

starting in March (i.e. after the February ratings period which determines the amount

the Station charges advertisers for commercials) she would no longer be anchoring the

noon or 5 p.m.

weekday newscasts, but rather would be a Weekend Anchor, with reporting duties

three days per week, with fill in anchoring duty as needed.

31. When pressed, the News Director admitted to Posteraro that the change

in duties was a "demotion."

32. Upon information and belief, the Station and Bee had no plan to move

Posteraro to the Weekend Anchor position until after Posteraro challenged Bee's

discriminatory behavior and treatment of female employees. The decision to move

Posteraro was made after and because of Posteraro's complaints.

33. In a February 2, 2018 meeting between Posteraro and Bee, Bee agreed

that Posteraro's performance was exceptional. Posteraro questioned whether she was

being discriminated against. In that meeting, and on several prior occasions in private

and in public, Bee called Posteraro the "gold standard" of anchoring.

7
34. On February 5, 2018, Posteraro filed a complaint with Human

Resources claiming that the demotion was retaliation for her objection to Bee's

treatment of female employees.

35. After approximately three weeks, and an incomplete investigation, the

Company concluded that there was no retaliation. Among other matters, the Company

failed to speak with individuals who had evidence supporting Posteraro's claims.

36. On February 26, 2018 — after she expressed concerns about retaliation

for reporting discriminatory conduct — Posteraro was informed that her demotion

would not be to daytime reporting, as she was initially informed, but rather night side

reporting, requiring a 3 p.m. to midnight shift, similar to what an inexperienced

reporter would be assigned.

37. Posteraro informed the Station that she was not quitting, and that she

was willing to continue working in her current role as noon and 5 p.m. anchor, and that

she believed the offered demotion (including the night side assignment) was

retaliation.

38. On Monday March 12, 2018 the Station advised she no longer worked

for the Company and that it considered her to have resigned.

39. Posteraro did not resign; rather she was terminated, or in the alternative,

constructively discharged.

40. The reason for the termination is retaliation in violation of the

Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. 951 et seq. ("PHRA").

8
41. Posteraro received no fewer than four different and conflicting

explanations for her demotion.

42. The first explanation (from the News Director and Bee) provided in or

around January 31, 2018 and February 2, 2018 was that the move had nothing to do

with her performance (which was acknowledged to be exceptional), and that the

Station wanted Posteraro in the weekend anchor position to "win" the weekends.

43. The next explanation came on February 21, 2018, from a corporate

manager. She claimed that the Station was moving Posteraro to a weekend anchor

position because there were too many anchors during the week and ratings were

eroding. The same manager told Posteraro that the decision to move her was made

before the October focus groups. She further stated that the focus groups merely

"reaffirmed" their decision

44. The third explanation on February 23, 2018 came from corporate human

resources representative, who claimed that the decision was made based on a ten-

minute meeting in April 2017 between a corporate representative, Posteraro and her

co-anchor shortly before a broadcast. The HR representative claimed that the

representative had, on this one, off-air meeting, observed no chemistry and no rapport

between Posteraro and her co-anchor, and that the focus group re-affirmed the

observations. The focus group comments provided to Posteraro did not, in fact address

such alleged observations. Moreover, out of the 60 focus group participants, the

Station identified only six

"negative" comments regarding Posteraro.

9
45. The fourth reason given to Posteraro on February 26, 2018 by a

corporate manager was that the Company managers "knew they had to move one

weekday anchor to the weekends," but the focus groups changed that decision and led

them to believe they "had to move two weekday anchors to the weekend." This

explanation contradicts the Company's prior statements that the focus groups

"reaffirmed" the decision it had already made.

46. The inconsistent and changing explanations belie that the real reason for

the demotion was in retaliation for Posteraro's complaints about Bee's treatment of

women.

47. Posteraro has satisfied any and all conditions precedent to her right to

bring this charge under the PHRA.

Count 1
Discrimination on the Basis of Sex Under the PHRA
(Complainant v. the Company)

48. The foregoing paragraphs are incorporated as if set forth herein at


length.

49. During the course of her employment, Posteraro was a member of a

protected class under the PHRA, as she is a female.

50. The Company discriminated against Posteraro by creating and/or

permitting a hostile work environment which discriminated against Posteraro and other

female employees with respect to the terms, conditions, and privileges of her

employment based on her protected class.

10
51. The discrimination was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the

terms and conditions of her employment, as described more fully above. Male co-

workers were not subject to this discrimination.

52. As set forth more fully above, this conduct constitutes unlawful

discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations

Act,

43 P.S. 951 et seq.

53. Posteraro has suffered damages due to the Company's unlawful

discrimination.

WHEREFORE, Flora Posteraro prays that the Company be required to provide

all appropriate remedies under 9 of the PHRA, including back pay, front pay and/or

reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs, and

interest.

Count 2
Retaliation Under the PHRA
(Complainant v. the Company)

54. The foregoing paragraphs are incorporated as if set forth herein at


length.

55. During the course of her employment, Posteraro was a member of a

protected class under the PHRA, as she is a female.

56. Posteraro complained to the Company regarding the hostile work

environment which she experienced and witnessed.

11
57. After Posteraro complained of the discriminatory working conditions,

the Company retaliated against her by demoting her and terminating her employment

where similarly situated employees would not have been terminated.

58. The Company demoted Posteraro and terminated her employment in

retaliation for her complaints.

59. Posteraro's demotion and ultimate termination constitutes unlawful

retaliation in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 P.S. 951 et seq.

60. Posteraro has suffered damages due to the Company's unlawful

retaliation.

WHEREFORE, Flora Posteraro prays that the Company be required to provide

all appropriate remedies under 9 of the PHRA, including back pay, front pay and/or

reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs, and

interest.

Count 3
Discrimination and Retaliation Under the PHRA
(Complainant v. Bee)

61. The foregoing paragraphs are incorporated as if stated at length


herein.

62. At all relevant times, Bee contributed directly to the hostile work

environment, discrimination and retaliation directed toward Posteraro.

63. Bee aided and abetted in the hostile work environment,

discrimination and retaliation directed toward Posteraro.

64. Upon information and belief, Bee had decision-making power


regarding

12
Posteraro's demotion and termination.

65. Bee's conduct constitutes a violation of 43 P.S. 955(e).

13
WHEREFORE, Flora Posteraro prays that the Company be required to provide

all appropriate remedies under Title VIl, including back pay, front pay and/or

reinstatement, compensatory damages, attorney's fees, costs, and interest.

Count 5
Retaliation Under Title Vll
(Complainant v. Company)

73. The foregoing paragraphs are incorporated as if stated at length herein.

74. Posteraro is a member of a protected class under Title VIl of the Civil

Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. SS 2000 el seq. ("Title V Il"), as she is a

female.

75. Posteraro complained to the Company regarding the hostile work

environment, harassment and discrimination she experienced and witnessed.

76. After Posteraro complained of the discriminatory working conditions,

the Company retaliated against her by demoting her and terminating her employment

where similarly situated employees would not have been terminated.

77. The Company demoted Posteraro and terminated her employment in

retaliation for her complaints.

78. Posteraro's demotion and ultimate termination constitutes unlawful

retaliation in violation of Title VIl.

79. Posteraro has suffered damages due to the Company's unlawful

13
retaliation.
WHEREFORE, Flora Posteraro prays that the Company be required to provide

all appropriate remedies under Title VIl, including back pay, front pay and/or

reinstatement, compensatory damages, attorney's fees, costs, and interest.

DUAL FILING

This charge has been dual filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity

Commission asserting all claims under Title VIl, 42 U.S.C. 2000 et seq.

CURL

Date: By:
Charles V. Curley 1100 E. Hector Street
Suite 425
Conshohocken PA 19428
610 834 8819
610 834 8813 (fax)
Attorneys for Complainant
VERIFICATION

I hereby verify that the statements contained in this complaint are tn.le and correct to the best

of my knowledge, information, and belief. I understand thm hlse statements herein are made subject

to the penalties of 18 PA.C.S, 4904, relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.

Flora Posteraro

14
Date.. 3

15