For the past 20 years, Flora Posteraro has been a local news icon in Harrisburg, where she has anchored both the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts for abc27.
But earlier this month, the former 6ABC reporter and weekend anchor roiled Pennsylvania’s media community when she suddenly announced on Facebook that she was no longer employed at the station, where she had worked since 1997.
At the time, Posteraro didn’t explain the reason behind her mysterious departure, beyond making it clear the move wasn’t her decision. But she offered hints in the message, referring to the current environment as “a powerful moment for women to demand equality, fairness, and professionalism in the workplace.”
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 Commision 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 on to an internal complaint about her boss, abc27’s station manager Robert Bee. Among the allegations made 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 the station’s male anchors while installing a restrictive dress code for female anchors, including banning sleeveless dresses due to the “flabby arms” of his network’s hosts. He is also alleged to have referred to female anchors who defied his dress code as “street walkers.”
Posteraro was dismissed on March 12, 10 days before she field 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 then take Bee and Nexstar to court.
On March 23, a day after Posteraro filed her Human Relations Commission complaint, corporate representatives from Nexstar held a staff meeting at the station. According to a source at the station 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 at the meeting 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.
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 of which are affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. All told, Nexstar reaches 100 television markets. In addition to Harrisburg, the company owns Pennsylvania stations in Altoona, Erie and Wilkes-Barre.