ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) — Storm clouds are brewing at The Weather Channel after one of its former meteorologists sues the station for military discrimination.
Former on-air meteorologist and Air Force Reserve Capt. Nicole Mitchell has filed a lawsuit against the station, NBC/Universal, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group after she was let go and did not have her contract renewed due to her military commitments conflicting with her work.
Mitchell claims that support for her and her military commitments went from “day to night” after management at The Weather Channel changed hands in 2008. The lawsuit states that the new regime told Mitchell that her military schedule “impacts everyone.”
“I had a co-worker who was openly harassing and hostile anytime I would take time off because she didn’t want to cover,” Mitchell said at her press conference Monday. “Management even told me once I wasn’t allowed time off on an occasion I had military orders. It’s very hard and it can make your life miserable very fast.”
Mitchell, who has been with the Air Force Reserve since she was 17, filed the lawsuit last year under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which prohibits discrimination against service members due to military obligations.
“It’s popular right now to say, ‘We support the troops and that we got your back,’ but if you’re going to say it, you should mean it,” Mitchell said.” We need to make sure employers are doing the right thing … at the very least because it’s the law. And not liking the law … is not an excuse to break it.”
The Weather Channel told The Marietta Daily Journal that they will fight the charges.
“As with many situations, there is more than one version of what occurred,” the station said in a statement to the Daily Journal. “We disagree with many of the assertions in the plaintiff’s press statements and intend to vigorously defend the matter in the arbitration process.”
Mitchell is currently a meteorologist for the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters.