The battle between a local CBS news station and one of its former morning anchors has taken a new turn.
Former WJTV anchor Brittany Noble-Jones is disputing claims by the Jackson, Mississippi television station and its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, that she was fired for “excessive absenteeism.”
Earlier this month, Noble-Jones told Urban Hollywood 411 she was wrongfully terminated in May 2018, after filing an EEOC complaint that alleged she was singled out for among other things, wearing her “natural” hair on camera.
At the time that Noble-Jones went public with her claims, Nexstar would not comment. The company has since released a statement to several media outlets, including Urban Hollywood 411, saying the journalist was fired “for her failure to return to work,” not her hair.
“WJTV-TV and Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. maintain a strict zero-tolerance policy which prohibits harassment, discrimination or retaliation of any type,” the statement said. “Allegations that Ms. Jones’ employment was terminated for her choice of hairstyles have no basis in fact and are vigorously denied. Ms. Jones’ employment was in fact terminated for excessive absenteeism and for her failure to return to work and fulfill her contractual responsibilities after exhausting all available leave time. We stand by our decision to terminate Ms. Jones’ employment and vehemently deny her latest publicly-stated version of reasons for her dismissal.”
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Rocking gold today for the @alcornstateu Braves! Today I aired a “follow-up” story about my friend from college. Thanks to @skato16 I got my first locker room experience covering his career with the @detroitlionsnfl. At the time I worked for @nbc25_fox66 and he was a nurse working on his Masters! Now he is a year away from getting his Doctorate in Medicine from @ummcnews! He says he’s the 5th black former professional football player to be a Doctor. #Mississippi #newsanchor #newsreporter
When contacted about the company’s comments, Noble-Jones disputed claims that she had exhausted her accrued leave time.
“I did still have 64 hours left of time that I could have taken,” she told Urban Hollywood 411. “But it wasn’t in the company policy to allow me to take time off for my grandfather because he wasn’t close enough. He wasn’t an immediate family member.”
In a Medium post on Jan. 7, the former morning news anchor wrote: “I was terminated while using my own sick time to care for my dying grandfather. I believe this is because I filed an EEOC complaint the month before.”
Noble-Jones said in the post she took her concerns to human resources at the station and later to Nexstar HR before filing the complaint. She alleged the complaint was prompted by a series of issues, including being told her natural hair looked “unprofessional.”
She also claimed that she was barred from participating in station promos after becoming pregnant, and was ultimately fired for using sick leave to help care for her terminally ill grandfather in her home state of Missouri.
In response to Nexstar’s statement, Noble-Jones said in a telephone interview that she contacted her news director and local HR department in 2018 for guidance on using her accrued time.
“I was asking them questions about taking time off,” she stated, adding, “I still have my emails from around that time period.”
Noble Jones alleges that instead of trying to help her, the station planned to fire her all along.
“My local HR told me that they would do everything they could to keep my paycheck whole, and then come to find out, they had already terminated me in the system before they had even sent me that email,” she recalled.
She is now considering taking legal action.
“I am looking to retain an attorney who can help me fight this fight,” she said.