NABJ Calls for ‘Immediate’ Culture Change at Black News Channel After Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The network was sued by 13 women claiming unfair pay and a sexist, misogynistic workplace culture

Black News Channel anchors Mike Hill and Sharon Reed are shown with CEO Princell Hair. (Courtesy BNC)
Black News Channel anchors Mike Hill and Sharon Reed are shown with CEO Princell Hair. (Courtesy BNC)

The National Association of Black Journalists is putting pressure on the Black News Channel after the network was sued by former and current female employees for gender discrimination. The allegations point to a sexist workplace where female employees made less than their male counterparts.

In a statement on Monday, the NABJ said BNC has agreed to meet with its board. The association said it hopes the network will take immediate steps to “remedy any disparities” at the news organization.

“The National Association of Black Journalists is disgusted by the allegations of harassment, gender discrimination, and gender-based pay disparities detailed in a lawsuit filed by former employees of the Black News Channel (BNC). Our Board members have spoken with current and former employees of BNC who corroborate many of the disturbing claims playing out in the court system. NABJ calls for immediate change within the culture of the organization,” the statement said.

Thirteen women have sued the Florida-based network for gender discrimination, accusing the company of unequal pay for female employees and a workplace culture that forced them “to conform to sexist or misogynistic stereotypes about how women are supposed to behave.”

In an amended complaint filed earlier this month in the Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court, the 13 plaintiffs allege that executives at the 2-year-old network disciplined or terminated female employees for being too vocal, pushy and aggressive, created a hostile work environment for women and paid women thousands of dollars less per year than their male counterparts.

In a statement provided to TheWrap, a rep for BNC said the company plans to challenge the suit; further, that the company takes seriously any unprofessional and inappropriate conduct in the workplace and has investigated the claims made in the suit — without noting the outcome of its investigations.

The plaintiffs include talent producer Claudia Jean, executive producer Maria Roach, newsroom executive Felicia Burton, director Lauren Coleman, line producer Kyra Branch and part-time assignment editor Kisha Wilkinson; six additional plaintiffs are listed as “Jane Doe” on the complaint. Only Branch and one unnamed plaintiff are still working at BNC; all others were either fired or resigned.