Former WDOD Radio afternoon host Amy Reed has sued the station, alleging that she was harassed by station management and by Alex Williams, who preceded her as the afternoon host.
The suit was filed in Chattanooga Federal Court by Ms. Reed, who joined the station in January after leaving Country WPAW 93.1 The Wolf in Greensboro, N.C. Her starting pay was $50,000.
The suit says her immediate supervisor was Danny Howard, station manager.
She said she reported Mr. Williams' "online attacks" against her to the station to no avail.
Instead, she said, management admonished her for focusing on sexual content.
She said she was told, "The social media landscape presents critical opportunities and challenges for the Hits 96 brand. Your guidance and planning skills are welcome, however, the optics of the Hits social pages, (that reflect and affect our image greatly), need attention. There has been an overabundance of sexually charged content on both our page as well as your personal-professional page which you cross tag and promote on-air. i.e.
- Pole dancing (which we removed)
- Dating app discussions
- Shirtless firefighters
- Drinking game references
- YouTube discussions about booty size
- Just the Tip Tuesday feature (which we cancelled, but remains on your personal page) The Hits page doesn’t have to be a G rated site. But it also shouldn’t be rated R either. While the occasional post of a firefighters calendar or the latest general dating app info could be acceptable, a variety of posts that break up those types of content is crucial. We cannot afford to have a page filled with multiple sexual innuendo posts. (Listeners and advertisers will notice and react negatively, which is not our goal) Going forward please use great caution to avoid posting content that may be identified as sexually charged; especially when in succession with similar posts. It is of great importance that we protect the image of the Hits 96 WDOD brand."
Ms. Reed said prior to that memo, the station "never advised her to avoid posting widely-accepted content because it was not acceptable to Hits 96."
The suit says on Feb. 19 she stated, in a joking manner, “forget your dreams and become a teacher strictly because of the amount of time they get off.” The suit says, "No other negative comments were made. Ms. Reed moved on to the two other items for that break. When Ms. Reed became aware that listeners were responding on Twitter and Facebook to her comments, she replied that her statements were strictly her opinion; and, if the listeners wished to further discuss, she was in the studio and available. Ms. Reed was pleasant, respectful, and only responded to acknowledge the listeners’ complaints. She stopped responding when she became aware that the discussion was proving unproductive, which is proper protocol per the Social Media Guidelines of Hits 96."
The complaint says on Feb. 20, she was suspended from her employment without pay for two days.
In conjunction with her suspension, Ms. Reed received a memorandum, stating: "On Wednesday February 19th, Amy Reed (afternoon personality on WDOD-Hits 96 Chattanooga) made on-air comments and posted opinions regarding teachers. She stated/posted “forget your dreams and become a teacher strictly because of the amount of time they get off” followed by additional negative comments about teachers. Ms. Reed argued online with one listener and took an on-air call from a teacher which she proceded to laugh at. Ms. Reed has been verbally informed this type of commentary does not match the image of WDOD (Hits 96), will not be tolerated, and that she will be suspended for two days 2/20 & 2/21 without pay. Furthermore Ms. Reed must reach out to educate herself on teacher roles by volunteering over a three week period and an area public school system. She has also been instructed to offer multiple on-air apologies upon her return to the air during the week of 2/24 and to drastically change her image on-air in the community. Ms. Reed has been informed that our stations bond with our community is of utmost importance and that she has damaged that connection. She was also notified that any further instances will be grounds for termination."
Ms. Reed said she told station officials that she planned "to reach out to David Carroll, a reporter for WRCB who is very involved with the area school districts, as well as several teachers to put together a round table discussion where I can learn more about the local education system, the daily challenges teachers face, and both their micro and macro concerns. For a future charity event, I would like to put together a drive to help reduce student lunch debt in elementary & middle school. While I understand this is not directly related to “teachers,” a teacher from Hamilton County who I was engaging with in an online dialogue last night said that assistance with lunch is much needed, even more so than supplies, etc."
She said Mr. Howard later told her, "Do not contact David Carroll nor other members of the press as this could serve to compound the problem and fuel publicity.”
Ms. Reed said she felt she had two strikes against her and had no other choice than to resign.
The suit was filed by attorney James Friauf of Knoxville.