Former on-camera meteorologist and Air Force Reserves Captain Nicole Mitchell has filed a lawsuit against The Weather Channel — owned by NBC, GE, and Bain Capital — for military discrimination. Captain Mitchell is a member of the Air Force’s famous Hurricane Hunters division (the professionals who fly aircraft into hurricanes to gather data on it). According to a press release posted to Nicole Mitchell’s public Facebook fan page, the grounds for the lawsuit is The Weather Channel’s violation of The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) which prohibits discrimination and retaliation against service members due to their military obligations.
Nicole Mitchell was a stellar meteorologist and television personality with The Weather Channel (TWC) for many years, and her lawyer claims that she was fired because her military obligations were inconvenient to TWC’s schedule and bottom line. As the following 30 minute press conference shows, TWC became openly hostile towards Captain Mitchell and the scheduling of her military assignments. They first began making Mitchell’s schedule difficult because of her military obligations (provided to The Weather Channel 9 months in advance). The company soon took Mitchell off of the channel’s top rated morning show “Your Weather Today” and stuck her with an overnight shift that made it impossible for Mitchell to make it to Mississippi in time for her military assignments, forcing her to take personal leave in order to make the long drive from Atlanta to Gulfport MS. Executives at TWC got so frustrated with her military duties interfering with the company’s schedule that they decided not to renew Captain Mitchell’s contract, effectively firing her.
The lawsuit was originally filed in September and was never meant to go public, but because The Weather Channel/NBC/Bain Capital are forcing the matter to go to arbitration, and given that TWC’s parent company NBC Universal touts itself as military-friendly, Captain Mitchell and her lawyers decided to make the issue public.
Even worse than that is that The Weather Channel has a Hurricane Hunters series coming up, and Mitchell’s lawyers allege that the film crew was ordered to go to excruciating lengths to exclude Captain Mitchell from the entire filming of the series.
The Weather Channel has a shameful history with its employees, up to and including protecting former on-camera meteorologist Bob Stokes from claims that he sexually harassed multiple employees of The Weather Channel by punishing female employees who reported him. Stokes was eventually fired and lost a sexual harassment suit filed against him.
Speaking on a personal level, The Weather Channel was the reason that I got so interested in weather. I grew up in the 1990s when they were actually about the weather. It was a great, well-respected institution “back in the day.” Now that they’ve switched over to entertainment after being bought by NBC/Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, they’re a cesspool of ratings, money, and crap.
As Captain Mitchell pointed out in the press conference above, this ordeal is especially shameful given that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital is one of The Weather Channel’s parent companies. This needs to be shared far and wide not only so Captain Mitchell and discriminated-against veterans get the justice and protection they deserve, but so Mitt Romney has to answer as to why his company endorses discrimination against members of our armed forces.
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