News anchor Wendy Bell is suing Pittsburgh-based WTAE for firing her, claiming that the TV station gave her the pink slip because she’s white. In a federal lawsuit, Bell alleged that WTAE canned her on March 30 “because of her race.”
“Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms. Bell’s posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive.”
According to the Associated Press, Bell “is seeking back pay, punitive damages and her old job.”
As previously reported, the 21-time Emmy winner took to Facebook on March 21 to voice her opinion on the March 9 shooting of five black people in Pittsburgh’s Wilkinsburg suburb. While some Bell supporters applauded her honesty on social media, the reporter’s remarks were widely interpreted as racist.
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts,” Bell wrote. “They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.” (No arrests were made in the case.)
Bell was let go just nine days after WTAE deemed her comments an ethical violation. The broadcast journalist — who began her career with the news station in 1998 — spoke with the AP on the same day she was fired and told the outlet that she did not receive a “fair shake” from the company.
WTAE has yet to comment on Bell’s lawsuit.
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