The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today filed a federal lawsuit against WBAL-TV and its parent company, the Hearst Corp., for alleged sex discrimination against former Channel 11 anchor Ruth Ann "Rudy" Miller.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, claims WBAL-TV violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by paying Miller less than it paid male anchors for "substantially equal work," subjecting her to "different assignments, terms and conditions and privileges of employment" because she is a woman, and retaliating against her by firing her in 1989 when she demanded equal pay.
EEOC chairman Evan J. Kemp Jr. said today that the agency found Miller to be "a victim of discrimination -- she was paid less and then fired because she is a woman."
The EEOC requested a permanent injunction against what it called the station's sexually discriminatory employment practices and asked a judge to order the station to provide equal pay to female anchors.
The suit also seeks back wages for Miller and an equal amount in liquidated damages.
Miller filed a similar suit through a private attorney last January that claimed violations of the Equal Pay Act.
The EEOC suit is broader because it was filed under both that act and Title VII and because it seeks an injunction, which individuals' suits cannot do.
Gerald S. Kiel, the EEOC's regional attorney, said the commission attempted to "resolve the matter through conciliation" after making an official determination in the Miller case last July. He said the suit was filed because conciliation "didn't work."
David J. Barrett, WBAL-TV vice president and general manager, criticized the EEOC, calling its findings "wrong," and he said they "overlook important material facts and disregard material testimony."
"We believe a fair and more complete examination of the facts in our court system is in order, and will, we believe, support WBAL-TV's responsible news conduct," he said. "We dispute Rudy Miller's position about her employment experience at WBAL-TV and we strongly and emphatically disagree with the EEOC's determination."
Barrett said that Miller, who earned $140,000 a year, withdrew "by her own choice" from the station's prime 11 p.m. newscasts. She was anchoring the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts, which do not generate as much revenue for the station, when her contract was not renewed.