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Former KCTV-5 anchor Karen Fuller files age and gender discrimination lawsuit

Karen Fuller, whose contract with KCTV-5 was not renewed in 2015, filed a discrimination lawsuit Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in federal court.
Karen Fuller, whose contract with KCTV-5 was not renewed in 2015, filed a discrimination lawsuit Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in federal court. The Kansas City Star

A former news anchor for KCTV-5 in the Kansas City area is suing the station’s owner for age and gender discrimination.

Karen Fuller filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., against the Meredith Corporation, owner of the station based in Fairway.

Fuller alleges in the suit that the company has created an “age ceiling” for its female anchors but not for male anchors.

“Women age out in their mid- to late 40s,” the lawsuit alleges. “The company does not enforce the same age-related job requirement for male prime time anchors.”

A call to Meredith headquarters in Iowa seeking comment was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Fuller was was hired in 2003 to co-anchor for the station’s prime time newscasts, according to her suit.

Throughout her employment, the suit says that she never received any type of verbal or written warning about her job performance, and was never told that her job was in jeopardy.

Her contract was “repeatedly” renewed. But in January 2015, with her contract up for renewal that April, she was terminated at the age of 47 “without prior warning, cause or legal justification,” according to the suit.

“In the eyes of Meredith Corporation, women news anchors like Ms. Fuller, unlike their male counterparts, simply become too old to deliver the news,” she alleges in the lawsuit.

Her last day at the station was Feb. 25, 2015. She asked station management to allow her a few seconds during the final broadcast at 10 p.m. to thank viewers.

But after the 6 p.m. newscast that night, Fuller was met by management and told she needed to leave the building, according to the suit.

“The company’s strong-arm behavior assaulted her dignity, cast aspersion on Ms. Fuller’s many years of hard work, professionalism, and loyalty to her job, and took away Ms. Fuller’s ability to say goodbye to co-workers, friends and viewers,” the suit alleges.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Earlier this year, a reporter with another Kansas City television station filed a discrimination lawsuit, which is pending.

Lisa Benson Cooper, who goes by Lisa Benson, filed suit against KSHB-41, alleging race discrimination.

In 2008, Kelly Eckerman, Peggy Breit and Maria Albisu-Twyman, who goes by Maria Antonia, filed suit against KMBC-9 in Kansas City also alleging gender and age discrimination. Court records show that the action was dismissed by mutual agreement in 2010.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

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