Former Fox 4 anchor sues for discrimination, says news director called her 'the wrong minority'
Megan Murphy, who went by Megan Dillard on the air, was the only Asian American on-air employee at WDAF. She alleges the news director refused to consider her for a lead anchor position because she was not African American.
A former WDAF Fox 4 reporter and news anchor is suing the corporate parent of the station, alleging Fox 4 refused to consider her for a lead anchor position because she was “the wrong minority.”
Megan Murphy, who went by Megan Dillard on the air, says the news director at Fox 4, Sean McNamara, refused to offer her the job or even consider her because “she was not Black/African American, which Defendant considered to be the ‘right’ minority,” according to the lawsuit.
Murphy claims McNamara’s comment was a reference to her Asian American background. She says she was the only Asian on-air employee at Fox 4.
Murphy filed her lawsuit in April in Jackson County Circuit Court, but the station’s parent, Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., moved it to federal court last week.
Through its attorney, Nexstar said it does not comment on pending litigation. But the company denied Murphy’s allegations in the answer it filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Murphy’s one-count suit seeks unspecified damages under Section 1981 of the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits intentional racial discrimination.
“Defendant’s conduct was malicious or recklessly indifferent to Plaintiff’s right to be free from discrimination in employment and negotiating contractual relationships,” the lawsuit alleges.
Murphy, who is now director of public relations for the Independence School District, did not return a phone call and email seeking comment. Her attorneys did not return phone calls.
Murphy began working as a reporter at Fox 4 in March 2014 under a three-year contract, according to her lawsuit.
In November 2017, the suit says she was promoted to news anchor and awarded a new three-year contract. She reported during the work week and anchored on weekends.
Murphy expressed interest in the lead evening anchor position when the woman occupying that position, an African American identified in the lawsuit as D.R., announced she was leaving. D.R. apparently refers to Dhomonique Ricks, who joined Fox 4 as evening anchor in early 2017 and announced her departure toward the end of 2019.
McNamara, who became Fox 4’s news director in December 2019, allegedly made his “wrong minority” comment to Murphy after she expressed interest in the job.
The lead evening anchor position remained open until August 2020, according to the lawsuit. That’s when Fox 4 hired Christel Bell to fill the position.
Murphy left Fox 4 instead of renewing her contract because, she says, Fox 4’s allegedly discriminatory comments and conduct “left her with no choice but to resign.”
Nexstar became the owner of Fox 4 just a few months before the lead evening anchor position opened when it bought the station’s former owner, Tribune Media Co., in a $4.1 billion transaction.
Nexstar, which is based in Irving, Texas, is the largest television station owner in the country, with 199 stations, according to its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.