A Black television news reporter in Mississippi alleged she was fired after complaining about multiple instances of “harassment” and “abuse” from her bosses. The news anchor said she was criticized for wearing her natural hair and was pressured to look like “a beauty queen.”
Brittany Noble-Jones, a former co-anchor for WJTV This Morning, in Mississippi, said in a detailed Medium post that she was unfairly let go for filing complaints against her superiors and the news company that employed her.
Noble-Jones, who was named the 2015 Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), said her hair was called into question when she told her boss she was pregnant.
Noble-Jones, who was three months along in 2016, said she immediately felt ostracized after revealing she was pregnant.
“After announcing that I was pregnant, I was no longer included in commercials. I felt the need to starve myself to fit in. I now weigh only 108 pounds. I did eat while I was pregnant and while carrying my son and postpartum, I wasn’t allowed to represent the station and my events were given away to another white reporter,” she wrote on Medium.
When she asked why she was being left out of work promos, her boss gave a less than satisfactory answer.
“At 34 weeks, I asked my boss why I was being left out of work promos — I am the target audience as a young mom,” Noble-Jones told Yahoo Lifestyle. “He told me, ‘Why should I? You’re not a mom yet.'”
On October 16, 2016, the journalist went into early labor on-air and her son, Michael Fulton Jones III, was born prematurely. After Michael’s birth, Noble-Jones asked if she could stop straightening her air. Although she was initially given approval, her hair was called into question when she returned from her seven-week maternity leave.
“Let’s be clear my look has never been unprofessional on TV. But my boss would invite me into his office for closed-door meetings where he got away with saying extremely unprofessional comments. After having my son, I asked my news director if I could stop straightening my hair. A month after giving me the green light I was pulled back into his office. I was told ‘My natural hair is unprofessional and the equivalent to him throwing on a baseball cap to go to the grocery store.’ He said ‘Mississippi viewers needed to see a beauty queen.’ He even asked, ‘why my hair doesn’t lay flat.’ When I asked him how I should address the change on social media he told me to write ‘I was told to change my hair back to the way it was because that’s what looks best.’ I chose not to post his suggested line because it would be hurtful to other black women who share my 3c hair texture. I admit I am tired of changing my voice and wearing a wig in order to report on TV,” she wrote.
In 2017, Noble-Jones alleges she wasn’t provided adequate breaks to pump milk and was told to use a storage closet for pumping.
In April 2018, Noble-Jones took the complaints she filed to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that oversees civil rights in the workplace. Her case is currently on hold due to the shutdown.
One month after filing the complaint, Noble-Jones was using sick days to care for her dying grandfather in St. Louis when she was fired.
Once her unemployment benefits ran out in December, Noble-Jones got a part-time job at Michael Kors. Her 2-year-old son is staying with his father, while Noble-Jones couch surfs at a friend’s place.
She has since started a GoFundMe page to help her with living expenses.
A representative of Nexstar, the parent company that owns her former news station, has not commented on the allegations.