TV News Station Claims They Fired Rhonda Lee Because of Policy, Not Hair
Rhonda Lee received an outpouring of support from the public after being axed by KTBS TV Station in Shreveport. She was fired a month and a half after responding to a viewer who posted this to her Facebook page: “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. The only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. “I’m not sure if she is a cancer patient, but still its not something myself that I think looks good on TV. What about letting [a male with] waist long hair do the news? What about that?”
After her station did nothing to address the offensive comment, the meteorologist took matters into her own hands by writing a response. “I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring," she wrote. "I’m sorry you don't like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair… Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society.”
Although the viewer, Emmitt Vascocu, has since apologized, Lee got into a heated discussion with her boss that resulted in her termination. Since then, Lee's story has made the media rounds and with the TV station under a national spotlight, they defended their decision with an official statement:
“On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight-year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.
“Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow.
“Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.”