For more than 20 years, Flora Posteraro has been a local news icon in Harrisburg, where she anchored both the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts for abc27.
But this month, the former 6ABC reporter and weekend anchor suddenly announced on Facebook that she was no longer employed at the station.
At the time, Posteraro didn’t explain the reason behind her departure beyond making it clear the move wasn’t her decision. But she offered hints, referring to the current environment as “a powerful moment for women to demand equality, fairness, and professionalism in the workplace.”
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I must tell you I no longer work for abc27news. This was not my choice….
Despite support from viewers and some former colleagues, Posteraro has mostly stayed silent since leaving the station. But a complaint she filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission reveals Posteraro’s version of the events that led to her abrupt departure.
According to Posteraro, she was reassigned to the evening and weekend shift after having signed an internal complaint about her boss, station manager Robert Bee. Among the allegations in the complaint against Bee, who started at abc27 in January 2017 after Nexstar Media Group Inc. acquired the station, was that he referred to one of the network’s female anchors as a “fat pig” and used profanity to describe another.
The complaint further alleges that Bee gave preferential treatment to male anchors while installing a restrictive dress code for female anchors, including banning sleeveless dresses due to the “flabby arms” of the women. He is also alleged to have referred to female anchors who defied his dress code as “streetwalkers.”
Posteraro was dismissed on March 12, 10 days before she filed the Human Relations Commission complaint.
Bee, who previously worked at television stations in Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Nexstar did not return a call for comment.
The company “communicated to me that they will deny all the allegations and vigorously defend the suit,” said Charles Curley, Posteraro’s attorney.
On Thursday, Capital BlueCross announced it was pulling all advertising from the station following Posteraro’s ouster.
“We decided to suspend advertising with abc27 until the public complaint against the station’s general manager is appropriately resolved,” Capital BlueCross said in a statement. “We take the matter of due process seriously and have not made any judgments as to fault in this matter. But we also take allegations of sexual harassment or retaliation in the workplace very seriously, leading us to this decision.”
According to Curley, the next step is for an investigator assigned by the state to look into Posteraro’s claims and determine whether there was probable cause to sue. Once a ruling has been made, Posteraro could take Bee and Nexstar to court.
On March 23, a day after Posteraro filed her complaint, corporate representatives from Nexstar held a staff meeting at the station. According to a source who was present at the meeting, the executives denied that Posteraro had been fired and told employees the company planned to defend the “false accusations” against Bee.
FTV Live’s Scott Jones was the first to report on the meeting.
Employees were also reminded they were not authorized to speak to the press. Several current employees of the station took to social media after Posteraro’s ouster to support her.
If you stand up for equality, professionalism, and respect for women in your workplace, you deserve to be heard.
I stand with @floraposteraro.
— Amanda St. Hilaire (@amandasaint5) March 22, 2018
Pit in my stomach
— Alicia Richards (@arichardsabc27) March 15, 2018
Bee isn’t the only Nexstar manager to be accused of discriminatory behavior. Craig Marrs, the vice president and general manager at Fox 44 and ABC 22 in Burlington, Vt., is being sued by Catherine Iraheta, a former employee who claims that rampant sexual harassment forced her to leave her job as a sales executive.
Nexstar, which is headquartered in Irving, Texas, owns 170 television stations across the country, most major network affiliates. All told, Nexstar reaches 100 television markets. In addition to Harrisburg, the company owns Pennsylvania stations in Altoona, Erie and Wilkes-Barre.
Here is Posteraro’s full complaint: