A former CNN on-air reporter filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the news cabler Wednesday, charging she was fired because she went on maternity leave.
Patty Paniccia, a CNN weekend reporter in Los Angeles from 1989-93, claimed she was “written off” and dismissed by the company after she returned from having her second child in March 1993.
Paniccia and her lawyers spoke at a press conference, along with her children and husband, just hours after they filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“CNN has left me no alternative but to file this lawsuit,” she said. “They refuse to acknowledge and correct a serious discrimination problem within the network, especially in the Los Angeles bureau.”
Paniccia claimed the lawsuit was the first public sex discrimination suit against the Ted Turner-owned news station. She also contended that over the past six months, more than half a dozen women in the L.A. bureau had lodged private complaints of discrimination to the company’s human resources bureau.
A spokesman for CNN had no comment on any of the charges. “We believe the suit is without merit, but beyond that it is TBS policy not to comment on pending litigation,” said Steve Haworth, CNN spokesman.
In the suit Paniccia charged the firing came after three years of “threatening, harassing, discriminatory, humiliating and degrading” behavior from her direct superiors, including verbal and written abuse.
Paniccia produced an internal note from CNN exec veep Ed Turner that asked if she had “gone goo-goo on us” after having her first child in 1990.
Attorney John Taylor would not specify how much in damages Paniccia would seek.