Could you lose your job for defending yourself on Facebook? Rhonda Lee says she was fired from her job as meteorologist for KTBS in Shreveport, Louisiana because she responded to a racial remark posted by a viewer on the station's Facebook page. Lee, who keeps her hair short and natural, received a comment on the page from a viewer who didn’t like her hairstyle. Lee’s response was followed by her termination. Lee joins “Starting Point” live from Dallas to talk more about it.
This was the first time Lee says someone has commented on her looks on a Facebook page, but it isn’t the first time that she’s heard ever a comment on her hair. “I’ve even had a news director once say that my hair was too aggressive for Sacramento, so I wasn’t even allowed to interview at that point” she says. “It’s been an interesting journey with my hair.”
According to KTBS, Lee violated the social media procedure of the station by responding to the viewer's comment. Lee says she was not even aware of the policy at the time. She simply thought she needed to respond to the remark that was addressed to her in particular. "Racial comments can be very sensitive," she says, but she didn't consider her topic controvercial at all.
Soledad O'Brien relates Lee's experience to that of Wisconsin reporter Jennifer Livingston, who was criticized about her weight by a viewer earlier this year. She responded to it on air and her station rallied around her while others cheered her on. O'Brien asks whether Lee could have used this opportunity to launch a similar conversation. Lee says Livingston's experience came to mind, but her "first response was education." "I feel like I was being punished for defending myself," Lee says. "Whereas other people are given platforms, I was given a pink slip instead."
In ancient civilizations, women's hair was often elaborately and carefully dressed in special ways. Women coloured their hair, curled it, and pinned it up in a variety of ways. They set their hair in waves and curls using wet clay, which they dried in the sun and then combed out, or else by using a jelly made of quince seeds soaked in water, or curling tongs and curling irons of various kinds.
What a victim. Wow, take some responsibility.
What corporate America gets away with astonishes me, just like the latest penalty handed to the that banking monster money laundering for Mexican drug lords and AL-Quada terroist gettting a slap on the wrist , they do what ever they want no matter how criminal ,this is a American tradtion the powerfully rich engage in acts that are detramental to America's image and yet very little is done about it ,no way should this firing had a occured and probally will be swept under the curb unless someone reputable steps up in her defense.Years of struggling for equality and the scales are still unbalanced , plain and simple we are all humans and should be treated as such and not less.
where was your warning or counselling over this silliness first?! unconscionable!!!!!
I am grateful that this subject is getting the platform it deserves. We have suffered in silence for fear of the "pinks slip" long enough. Let them fire us...it is time for us to rise beyond the need to be employed by the ones who wish to deny us our voice!
After reading about this story on another website, I am EXTREMELY shocked that they (the station), are even going through with this, The policy quoted by the station has yet to be produced when asked by Ms. Lee to produce the document for evaluation. The station told her: "she told CNN that she never knew the rule existed, and had yet to see the policy which she was told “isn’t written down”–a curious explanation, given the email justification KTBS is providing as evidence Lee was provided notice of the rule."!!!!!!!
Furthermore, after reading Rhonda Lee's response, I was amazed that the station would even consider firing her with all of the bad publixity they will/are receiving after one actually examines Rhonda's email, laughably turned over to media as justification for the fire: "“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals. “Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that. “Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”
IF EVER THERE WAS A MORE GRACEFUL COMMENT! I think Rhonda Lee should've written speeches for BUSH!!!!! These people fouled up MISERABLY, and I think we, as their consumers and target audience, should let them know what we think! I live in NYC, but hatemail from anyway will put the pressure on the company and make them sweat!!!!
If you want to read the article yourself: http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/12/12/meteorologist-fired-after-defending-her-ethnic-hair/ ENJOY!!!!
Appears as if multiple labor standards and regulations of labor law were violated by KTBS. Left themselves wide open for a huge lawsuit for negligence and improper termination. Any lawyer could throw the book at them and collect BIG$$$$
Hello Rhonda. You are a beautiful woman with short natural hair. Don't let the turkeys keep you down. P.S. I have worn a short natural hair style for years and received lots of compliments..
I am sure if she were blonde, skinny as a rail with blinding white teeth, that would be acceptable. We are losing it as a civilization. Too bad.
Our curly natural hair throws people off for some odd reason. Rhonda, you are to be commended for standing your ground and wearing your hair the way that you want to wear it! As an HR professional(who wears her hair natural), I can't see how the station could fire you for your response without fair "warning" to you. Fight the good fight and get a lawyer, even if you don't sue them; they should have backed you up while privately explaining the policy to you. This is just another case of people who don;t look like you not understanding what is truly insulting. Good luck!
What KTBS did to RHONDA LEE is not a surprise. KTBS is a racist station. Remember SHELDON LEWIS the four year old black kid hurt at the state fair in NOVEMBER of 2011. White people call in making racist remarks against a four year old black kid and KTBS refuse to remove the racist remarks from their web site. Some of the white people said that the wish SHELDON LEWIS had died in his accident at the LOUISIANA STATE FAIR. I beg KTBS to remove the racist comments from their web site and the refuse to do so. Take a bow KTBS, now the world know that you is a racist tv station.
I wear my hair shorter then yours n I get compliments all the time. If you wear your hair like an anglo then all is well with the United States, duh! This is her natural hair that GOD give her, so take it up with GOD!...TRACK
Rhonda, sometimes God uses situations/people to change the world and I think you've been chosen. Stay strong in knowing that this is part of the plan that was created for you and ultimately you will prevail. Your story has already made national news and if nothing else is educating many on natural beauty and the different facets of discrimination that still exist. So congratulations on being chosen to change the world and hang in there because something brighter than KTBS is in your future!
Stay true, chemicals are getting into our blood, burning layers of skin, and causing hair loss through perm/relaxers! We love your hair!
Never wrestle with a pig, you just get dirty and the pig enjoys it!
PS. your hair looks fine.
Injustice like this...is why I have a passion to become a lawyer. This is outrageous and extremely unjust behavior by this TV station.
I wrote this letter to the station manager , I hope other people e-mail this station as well! ( on the ktbs website under contact us)
I recently heard a news story about how a meteorologist was fired from your station for defending herself online. As someone who has actually grown up on social media and the internet I find it amusing when companies try to take advantage of these technologies as a way to reach viewers. The stated reasoning for her firing was her not following company procedures.
I'm sorry to be rude but I think if you are going to takes someone's livelihood away from them, you should have a much better reason than "she defended herself online". As one of your viewers whom you seem so concerned about offending, you have deeply offended me that you so lowly regard this woman's life. Social media has specific uses and expectations and it appears that your station is completely clueless about how the internet works. Would there have been a viral campaign over the "shocking" response the meteorologist gave the ignorant viewer? Would there have been boycotting of your station over her comment? Would there be angry hate mail or lost viewership over the fact that she responded to some idiot? I'm guessing no. The opposite may in fact be true. This story has now reached CNN and I have already seen it many times on facebook and twitter; people are angry with your station. Perhaps your company policy is the very thing that is outrageous. She defended herself eloquently (and let's be honest, less expletive-filled than most people would have).
I have yet to even mention the racial aspect to this. I am white, but black women face many extreme and unique social pressures in this country and one of them is in regards to hair and colorism prejudice. This woman simply used this as an opportunity to defend her hair and educate people because short hair is sometimes seen as "undesirable", even by other black women. Nasty comments should NOT go unaddressed. Even though it is "only facebook", this is seen as tacit acceptance of hateful words. No official neutral mouthpiece defended her or deleted the offensive comment, leaving it there like an elephant in the room. What if little black girls (or anyone really) read that and it affected their self esteem or how they view black women? I truly feel like this is the aspect to this case that your station has not truly grasped. This is not just about facebook or your absurd company policy. Your station has literally made itself look like a racist bully. I am sure that was not your intention, but this is exactly what this looks like, and frankly, you should be ashamed.
Seriously, a simple reprimand is not enough punishment? Or make her delete her comment? Or have a staff meeting about how to deal with social media situations? I also don't care if she did this more than once. Nobody but you noticed anyway. And don't even get me started on the 1st amendment. What is this, communist Russia?? Or maybe you really did just hate her and her short hair.
Please give this woman her job back and please change your company policy so that this does not happen again. You have embarrassed yourselves and further solidified my theory that corporations just do not "get" social media and if they want to engage in such things they should consider that what they write on their walls or tweet out is just as important as what they don't say.
I watched you every day and you were really good. You looked and acted so professional that I can not believe Channel 3 would not stand behind you, it just shows how much they cared. You hold your head up, and continue to believe in you and good or even better things will come your way. God bless you and the person that fired you, I hope they get lumps of coal in thei stocking for Xmas.
Hey, folks, that's the south for 'ya. Let 'em secede from the Union. The gene pool for the rest of the nation would only improve.
I believe the station should stand by her not fire her for standing up for her self. The station is wrong Rhonda you are a beautiful black woman.
Hello Ms. Lee, you handled yourself so intelligently and thew woman that said those negative things about you, do not know what beautiful is. Your are pretty on the outside and on the inside. Sometimes, some people do not know what to say. Who defines pretty or beautiful. I am so excited that you spoke up for yourself, rather than bow down to what others things about you. Thank you for not being ashamed of who you are. You are pretty with or without hair.You were fired, but you maintained your dignity and respect which is more than I can say for the station managers.
This is so sad :(. All hair types are beautiful.
Some people are still living in the Dark Ages. They need to GET A LIFE!!. Long hair, short hair, pink hair, blue hair, what is the difference? It is what is beneath the hair that really counts. Sister, you wear your short hair with pride!
I heard your interview on Tom Joyner Radio Show this morning. It is amazing that in 2012 something of this nature would occur in a country that is of the free and home of the brave.
You are beautiful, intelligent and strong, You are in my prayers ...may God continue to Bless You.
I petition for CNN to hire Rhonda.
If I could look that good, I'd cut my hair that short in a heart beat! What do you want to bet they reconsider after they're hit with this negative publicity...
Rhonda was told not to respond on the company's facebook page and she responded anyway. She requested to respond to a post that she didn't like prior to this incident and she was told she was not allowed to respond. This particular post was not racial. The viewer just didn't approve of her hairstyle. It had nothing to do with race. She was insubordinate and she should have been punished. I am not saying she should have been fired, but she was wrong. I am a 40 year old African American woman and I cannot support her position.
Rhonda Lee, I watched your weather forecasts from Jefferson, Texas, on KTBS. You are an EXCELLENT weather person! I will miss you very much!
So, its okay to be nasty and ugly to a nice person, but this nice person can't defend herself or comment???? If I were her, I would sue KTBS!
What more can one expect from Louisiana rednecks?
I am so tired of society trying to dictate how a woman has to wear her hair, what size she should be and basically trying to tell us what is attractive. Enough already...Rhonda I hope you have a good lawyer and sue the hell out of your former employer.
You are probably one of the most beautiful women out there. Good for you, new opportunities await! Be well.
Some control freak in her company wants her to be quiet so they can talk for her. This is not unusual in the business world. It isn't right, but that doesn't seem to matter. Employees are treated badly and that is the American way.
Hey Rhonda: I am a former news director and your hair looks fabulous. I think the station that fired you has some real racism problems. Don't give up the fight. I'm sure it will be a long, tough battle.
Rhonda Lee was the only reason I watched KTBS...as far as her remarks that other people were given platforms, she is correct! I'd like to see the ACLU investigate KTBS for its constant violations of church and state...so many of the anchors are given stories to promote THEIR churches and THEIR causes. She was fired simply because she is African-American and because she has a voice!!
I watch the channel you were fired from, and the only complaint I had, is you were so perky in the morning; I just don't understand you "morning" people(plus, you are always smiling). Your appearance is exlemplary, your demeanor is excellent, your delivery of the weather was "spot on", and I, personally don't care what color you are, or how you wear your hair. How many times has a man been criticized for how he chose to wear his hair??? Keep up your gracious attitude, you will definitely go far!
Rhonda, I'm sorry that these people could be so closed minded that they would fire you over a hairstyle, and yes I believe every person has a right to defend themselves. At least it was a verbal defense and not a physical one like some people do. I wear my hair short and sometime shorter. It is my right as a United States citizen, as long as I’m not breaking the law or over the top offensive, I feel I can present myself as I choose. If you don’t like how I look, turn around and don’t look. I personally like short hair on any women of any nationality that is capable of wearing the style.
The word controvercial is spelled incorrectly CNN.
When African American males are in the news media they are not scolded for the texture of their hair. They are not asked to relax it or change the texture. African American females are usually told to make their hair straight so that it will be more acceptable to the public. If God didn't like it, he wouldn't have made it. God likes variety. Everyone has preference for hair texture. I like straight, kinky and everything in between. Variety is the spice of life. Leave Ms. Lee alone and let her do her job. Her hair is neat and well maintained, so what is the problem?
Mrs. lee is not telling you all the full story, she made several posts and comments to what seemed to be racists remarks by viewers, those comments were rude and seemed racists themselves, so what she was doing was engaging in a racial war,...the battle of two racists, and did she tell you that she has a federal case against another TV station that is pending, she seems to be a sue happy racists that thinks she can get away with breaking the rules, because she is black and female
OH, BTW Rhonda your hair is beautiful it compliments your features very well. Stay strong.
White people.....when will they learn. Jealousy, and racism will get you no where. This is not your country, everything belongs to GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I agree. She's quite beautiful.
Either way, she has to develop some resistance to random on-line comments.
I can understand her frustration but there is policy set forth by the station to handle such incidences. Perhaps a little research on company policy before the knee jerk reaction to defend herself would have been a better avenue to pursue
One should NOT have to defend their personal appearance. If you don't like it don't watch.
Wow.. wish I looked like her with short hair. She is beautiful!
So what was the "so-called" policy ..or 'excuse" that they used to fire her? Right, there is NO policy... hmmmm
Sounds like a lawsuit to me... in her favor
What CNN has forgotten to mention is that there was another person who was also terminated at the same time for the same reason, and this individual was a white male.
Wow.. wish I looked like that with short hair.
So what was the "so-called" policy ..or 'excuse" that they used to fire her? Right, there is NO policy... hmmmm
Sounds like a lawsuit to me... in her favor :)
Rhonda Lee, I adore you! I hate that this silly thing is happening!
Why is the Rhonda Lee interview video no longer available?
WTF wrong with her hairstyle??? Her hairstyle is "too aggressive?" What planet are these people from?
So what happened to the video? Why was it pulled?
Miss Rhonda, you are truly a beautiful intellegent, highly educated Black American woman just like our First Lady Michelle Obama is! You have alot to be proud of and if any of these White noise Americans do not like it, go to the nearest pit which hopefully has fire and a red man with a pitch fork and jump into it !! Some of these same White Americans who do not like your style pay hundreds of dollars trying to get golden brown like you are risking all kinds of skin cancers,lol. I pray our President Obama is reading or heard about your situation and givs you a job in his administration.
Freedom of speech, as well as one's desire how to style his/her hair is a civil right !!
Everyone needs to get off Facebook and other public media and get a real life! Before all the media sites came about to empty your brain all over the world, we all made a living not worrying about what somebody else is thinking like we have for for the past decade or so. It's your choice of course, but who needs everyone knowing what you look like and everything about your life sprouting everywhere which ultimately leaves you No privacy and look what happens here...a normal lady with a good job uses a stupid media site to vent her point of view and loses her job. Take a walk in the park and enjoy your family more...or get a pet and train it to make you some money, be creative and write a novel and stop putting your life online like a postcard for anyone to read. Hackers get your info at will so you don't even have security...get life in order and use social media for only fun, not your kids pictures and where you went to school or live!! Jesus!
Ms. Lee have to realize that racism still remain no matter if you have a higher education or not. Also I think she should ask herself " did they always wanted to fire me and is this the way they consider legit" you'll be surprise what your co workers think about their employers especially if the company ran by Caucasians. Discipline action against white vs black are extremely different.
Why is there no longer a video??? I can't say I'm surprised.. Just... dissapointed
There is so much conflicting information about this story. Here she says she didn't know about the policy and in another article she did. I am actually having a hard time believing her at this point. She wasn't fired for this ONE instance, the hair comment happened 2 months ago by the way and the man even called to apologize. It was an on going problem and not her first disciplinary action regarding social media. She knew she should have kept her mouth shut and taken the high road. She should have just let the idiot comments go. As Mark Twain said, "Never argue with an idiot, bystanders won't be able to tell the difference".
I'm pretty sure controversial is spelled wrong at the end of the third paragraph.
Why has this clip mysteriously disappeared from the web, CNN?
but, I don't think she should have been fired for it.
sorry having problems with my laptop,
I don't see where it is anyone's business how she wears her hair. I don't know what the comment that the viewer made so I don't know whether it was racist. But, I don't
I do hope Ms. Lee filed a complaint with the EEOC. She should address the racial harassment that her employer allowed her to be subjected by what appears to be racist viewers and raciest news executives. I don't know why folks believe racism is dead in this country and living in LA I am sure she knows it is not. This matter is not knew to African American women you just saw it with the White Tennis pro making fun of a Black one.
I am appalled at the unprofessionalism of this station. They even went as far as liking the post the viewer made about her hair (the one that got her fired). Even after dozens of people complained about that on their page, they still haven't unliked that post. This whole thing is a mess. The station should have left her alone and possibly even deleted the comment made by that man. But to fire her because she defended herself (in a very graceful and intelligent manner) is absurd.
The station manager should step down and whoever Rhonda's immediate supervisor is should be suspended or reprimanded for this behavior.
I worked for this same GM as well and he makes you sign a non compete BUT he can change the rules on his end at any time. I was asked to LIE to a client and when I refused...I was called horrible names by my supervisor I left because they made it impossible to work in that environment.. I could not work in the market for TWO YEARS!!
instead of focusing on hair to terminate someone they should have focused on why a fan would down a natural hair style. Women need to represent all styles short bald long fake it does not matter as long as they are getting the jib done.
Beauty is not what they look for, it is the Color
You are beautiful and qualified for the job and did nothing wrong but, encourage others to love their hair the way it is! GOD be with you!
I think she is a beautiful woman but I didn't like her as the news lady, I thought she was awkward and tried to hard to have a funny personality when she came off as strange. Just not for me, but I also feel the same about another weather person that is a white man that's why I don't watch while they are on. Just my opinion
I also have natural hair and I love it, I don't care what anyone says, I guess Chris Rock was right when he said when African American women hair is relaxed so are white people, well get over it!!!
I love Rhonda's hair and I loved how she was so bubbly and out going. She made listening and watching the weather with her fun!!! She had and has every right to respond to a comment towards her, be it either negative or positive!!!! I have been wondering why KTBS has so many Meteorologists coming and going. Now I have my ideas about if KTBS even deserves my time of watching!!!!!! Shame. Shame KTBS!!!
Can we see what the facebook post said and what she said in response please?
KTSB and its management should be ashamed of their actions. Firing Ms. Lee was discriminatory and uncivilized as with the viewer who had an issue with Ms. Lee's appearance. I am proud of Ms. Lee, and I hope a better employer recognizes her contribution and competence as great reporter, role model for young girls "that what you look like does not define you".
To Ms Lee, I say keep up the good work and I pray God blesses you with a better job than your former employer.
Why do some people think the Internet is the place for mean, terrible, and insensitive comments? Rhonda didn't deserve the rude comment nor did she deserve getting fired.
Shreveport, Louisiana....Enough Said...
Oh, Soledad, that was some skillful editing you did in your video, when you showed the email from the station, but you zoomed in on some parts, thereby blocking other parts. The part of the email that was blocked by your antics is very relevant. The first paragraph of the station's email (which was not legible on your show) says that the email is intended as "guidance", that it's a "starting point" for a social media policy – therefore, IT'S NOT AN ACTUAL POLICY YET, as it hasn't been vetted and approved. And that's why they can't show it to Ms. Lee in writing, and it's not in her employee handbook. So it's ridiculous for them to hide behind this email. The woman did nothing wrong!
Hey CNN!! Once again, I'm moderated. I have read your service agreement and I want to know why this "establishment" considers my words so messed up that every time I post something, you moderate it. My previous post did not fall under ANY of the violations in your agreement and there were NO "BAD WORDS". When you going to explain why it seems like my words are dangerous? What I said was uplifting and edifying to Ms. Lee in my post. WHY IS IT STILL NOT UP?
I am an attractive female just like you, however, although I have said many times "One of these days, I am chopping this hair off my head and pulling a Sinead O'Connor", I have not had the chutzpah yet to do so. You have style. You have beauty. You are well spoken and from an online perspective, seem to be genuinelly honest about what has transpired. It is very sad to see a media station take a stand on unintelligence and dishonor in this scenario with you, which is at least in part, what they wound up doing. I'm pretty sure though they were men with fragile, gargantuan egos, with the brains of their even tinier members guiding them. It is unfortunate but it is simple as you are possibly already in the process of doing: Lawsuit. Clearcut.
The broadcast licence for KTBS 3 News should be reviewed an if possible revoked for discriminatory practices!
I read this before seeing any part of the video so thought there would be something odd about the style. Afterwards, I had to show it to my mother (who is 77) and my son (21). Within the 3 generations, none of us see a reason for any comment other than 'Rhonda is a very attractive woman.' Outside of the stupidity in Shreveport, Sacramento also puts me at a loss. Rhonda, if you happen to read this, my mother is sorry she doesn't own a station so we could hire you. You'd be right at home in the DC metro area.
What a waste of an article. Didn't tell us what the comment was, didn't tell us what the response was. Why bother posting it? It is my right to decide if the comment was racist, as well as if the resonse was appropriate.
How SILLY of the Station! This station missed an opportunity to explore an interesting issue. There is a burgeoning natural hair movement spreading like wildfire in America among women and girls of African descent, whether they be African-American, biracial, Afro-Latina, from the Caribbean, or directly from Africa. Transitioning from chemically straightened hair to one's natural texture is not a typically a political statement but rather motivated by a desire to grow healthy tresses. For others, sporting their natural hair is an outward expression of self-acceptance. I, myself, stopped relaxing my shoulder length hair in 2005 and have not looked back ever since. Our hair textures, (whether kinky, curly, coily or wavy) afford us a multitude of styling options TWAs, Afros, braids, twists, twist outs, braid outs, bantu nots, and even roller setting or lat-ironing to achieve non-chemically straightened hair styles. I could go on and on but suffice it to say I love my natural hair and look forward to seeing more coverage on the natural hair movement.
Rhonda, short hair is sexy and you are beautiful!
Rhonda, you are absolutely beautiful. It's a travesty that in this day and age, black women can't wear their natural hair without making "others' feel uncomfortable. Why is it that women have to wear their hair long and straight? America wants a system full of barbie's. Sad and unacceptable.
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