RI Public Radio Reporter Says Station Blocking Her Unemployment
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Jonic says she was fired after she raised issues and ultimately filed a complaint for alleged gender-based discrimination by the station.
Specifically, Jonic claims that a male reporter made nearly 30% more than female counterparts with more broadcast experience. Now, Jonic is asking RI listeners to shift to listen WGBH. The Boston station already has twice as many RI listeners than RI Public Radio commands.
Dispute over unemployment claim
"I was surprised to learn on Friday, April 11th, that Rhode Island Public Radio is contesting my right to receive unemployment insurance benefits. RIPR (General Manager) Joseph O'Connor has gone out of his way to avoid saying I've been fired because he knows that to do so would be in direct conflict with federal law, which prohibits retaliation against any person alleging discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission," Jonic told GoLocal on Saturday.
In an email on Saturday night from Joseph O'Connor to GoLocalProv, O'Connor refuted Jonic's claim that the station was disputing her unemployment benefits. "Not true," said O'Connor.
Jonic claims that the station's policies are discriminatory, "He has issued a statement calling my accusations of pay discrimination "false." He knows they're not false. If they were false, Mr. O'Connor and the Rhode Island Public Radio Board of Directors would never have offered to mediate their way out of this predicament."
According to Jonic, the station tried to resolve the issues through a mediation process, "My relations with station management became noticeably frostier after they received notice that I was not interested in mediation. I declined this opportunity because the average EEOC mediation payout last year was about $20,000 -- which is far less than I am owed by Rhode Island Public Radio for earning at least 33% less than political reporter Ian Donnis for more than five years."
Jonic may not be the only woman
Jonic who has filed a complaint in both RI and Massachusetts say she is not the only woman being under compensated.
"Mr. O'Connor has also pointed out that the station is "quite proud of its record of hiring and promoting women, including its Morning Edition Host, its News Director and its Chief Operating Officer." I cannot speak to the salary of Chief Operating Officer Susan Greenhalgh, but I know with certainty that Morning Edition host Elisabeth Harrison and news director Catherine Welch earn less than Donnis," said Jonic.
Calling for a Boycott
Jonic told GoLocal that there is a need for the public to understand the importance with this case of discrimination. "I am doing what I never thought I would do: asking Rhode Islanders to boycott Rhode Island Public Radio. When they ask for money, just switch the dial to 89.7 FM. That's WGBH in Boston. It has twice as many listeners in Rhode Island as RIPR because it has one very strong signal while RIPR operates on three FM signals and does not cover the entire state. I believe in the mission of public radio, but I believe this station is not acting in the public interest," said Jonic.
O'Connor refused any other new comment.
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Changing Media Landscape
Radio, print, television and digital- the faces in Rhode Islands's media has changed drastically over the past months... Let's take a look at some of the biggest moves:
Rick Daniels has joined GoLocal24 as Chief Operating Officer.
Daniels is the former President of the Boston Globe. He also served as CEO of Gatehouse Media for New England and led a consortium of investors who attempted to purchase the Boston Globe from the New York Times Company in 2013.
Daniels then went on to play a key role at Empirical Media Advisors based in New York, focused mainly on Tribune Publishing, where Emprical’s co-founder and CEO, Jack Griffin, recently took the role of CEO.
WLNE-TV has fired anchor Karen Meyers. She had been with the station since 2011.
Meyers had anchored the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news with John DeLuca. Sources say station management opted not to renew her contract and decided to go in another direction.
Before Meyers joined ABC6, she was a reporter/anchor with New England Cable News and was a reporter in Washington, DC.
According to RIPR reporter Ian Donnis, Providence Journal's Health Reporter is leaving. Felice Freyer has been the sole reporter covering Rhode Island's largest businss sector.
Freyer leaves for the Boston Globe.
Her departure follows Phil Marcelo who recently left the Projo for AP in Boston.
Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly had RIPR reporter Scott MacKay as breaking the story.
Veteran radio reporter Flo Jonic recently was fired by RINPR after she filed complaints against the station for gender-based pay discrimination.
Jonic is a 30 year veteran of New England news radio.
In her charge filed in February, Jonic wrote, "I believe that I have been discriminated against based on my sex by my employer," and referred to the difference in her pay and that of RIPR reporter Ian Donnis.
"Currently, [reporter] Ian Donnis earns at least $75,000 a year, while I make $51,000 per year. We perform the same duties, and I have 32 more years experience than he does," wrote Jonic in her complaint.
After a seven year stint reporting for the Providence Journal's state house bureau, Phil Marcelo left the paper to take a reporting gig with the Boston office of the Associated Press.
Hailing from Long Island, New York, Marcelo came to ProJo in 2006, and covered everything from regional news, to Providence City Hall and the Statehouse. Marcelo's departure was first reported by WRNI's Ian Donnis.
Formerly a nightly news reporter for WJAR, Tremmel was fired from the "Team You Trust" after two clips, one of her performing on-air handstands, and the other offering tips on what to do during a bear attack, went viral.
The video became an internet sensation, but long-time Channel 10 newsman Jim Taricani called Tremmel’s antics “a smudge on our station's reputation.”
A long-time staple of Channel 10’s news team, Taricani announced plans to retire after over three decades with the station.
Taricani has won 5 regional Emmy awards, an Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism and a Prestigious Yankee Quill Award from the New England Newspaper Association.
He was convicted to six months in prison in 2004 for refusing to reveal a source, and is the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Rhode Island Hall of Fame.
Ron St. Pierre
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