FTVLive was the FIRST to tell you that fired WTAE (Pittsburgh) Anchor Wendy Bell had filed a lawsuit against her former station.
Her attorney says that if Bell were black, she would not have been fired for controversial comments she posted on Facebook about the mass shooting in Wilkinsburg.
Sam Cordes made the comment yesterday, the same day he filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf. Bell claims race discrimination against Hearst Stations and is seeking reinstatement.
“But for her being the race that she is, the decision would have been very different,” Cordes said. “The comment was not intrinsically racially pejorative. It was interpreted to be that way.”
Neither the general manager at WTAE nor a spokesman for Hearst could be immediately reached.
According to the lawsuit, it wasn’t until March 30, the same day as a meeting with the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation to discuss Bell and issues of racial diversity, that she was terminated. She was told that her comments on the Facebook page were ”inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation said at no time did the organization suggest or ask for Bell to be fired.
Cordes challenges WTAE’s statement that Ms. Bell’s post violated the company’s ethics, noting in the complaint that two other high-profile on-air personalities at WTAE committed acts that were “at least as egregious” as Bell’s situation and were not disciplined. They included one man who made lewd comments to interns, causing the newsroom internship program to end, and another who was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer, the attorney wrote.
Mr. Cordes expects to add a claim for gender discrimination in Ms. Bell’s lawsuit, as well, as soon as he receives a right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.