Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kaity Tong, Sal Marchiano and others suffered from age discrimination, WPIX's ex-news director says

BY Scott Shifrel and Richard Huff

WPIX's former news director has slapped the station with a dishy $4.5 million lawsuit that says she and New York news legends Marvin Scott, Sal Marchiano and Kaity Tong all suffered from age discrimination.

Karen Scott, who was fired last August from the Tribune-owned Channel 11, says she was let go because of her age, 60 - and not sagging news ratings as she was told. She maintains her firing was consistent with the way the station handled other senior staffers by either firing them, or reducing their roles.

Former station general manager Betty Ellen Berlamino is blamed for setting the ageist tone at Channel 11 in Scott's suit, filed yesterday.

In it, she reveals that in 2009, 72-year-old veteran reporter Marvin Scott's (no relation) role was greatly reduced.

And the accused hatchet lady coldly asked, "Why doesn't he just retire already?" the suit claims.
Tong, one of Channel 11's main anchors, was also a target, so they loaded the 59-year-old New York TV veteran with more work to try to get her to quit.

Berlamino also set her sights on sports great Marchiano, 68, the suit insists.
He just "doesn't look good on the air," she allegedly said.

When Marchiano left the station in 2008, WPIX said it was his decision. But he later said he was forced out.

"Reports about my retirement were - and are - inaccurate," said Marchiano, a longtime fixture on the New York sports scene.

Scott also dished that Larry Hoff, 58, a former features reporter for "PIX Morning News" was the target of age-related comments from Berlamino.

A station spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday.

"What she did there was pretty much unparalleled," Scott's lawyer Kenneth Rubinstein said, citing the station's 32 Emmy nominations.

Rubinstein said Tong was "an example of an older news person treated more harshly or differently than others."

Berlamino - who was fired last week by Tribune broadcasting honcho Jerry Kersting after he "decided it was time to make a change at WPIX" - did not return a request for comment.

One insider defended her and insisted that she was not out to get Marchiano, Marvin Scott, Hoff or Tong. Likewise, the insider noted, Berlamino, Karen Scott and Scott's replacement Bill Carey are all in the same "protected" age bracket.

Scott was pulling in upwards of $300,000 a year, according to the suit. Her lawyer said she is still out of work and that the firing was "a shock to the system."

Read more:

Broadcast Union News: Last year, four IBEW Local 1212 represented engineers at WPIX were laid off out of seniority in violation of the Union's collective bargaining agreement with Tribune. All four engineers were over age 40. IBEW Local 1212 filed an unfair labor practice on behalf of their members in this regard.

No comments: