Meteorologist Rhonda Lee Fired for Responding to Natural Hair Comment on Facebook [Details]

Rucuss staffDecember 14, 2012

Meteorologist Rhonda Lee won’t get another chance to make a Facebook comment to viewers of KTBS-TV in Shreveport, La.

Lee was terminated for repeatedly violating procedure of responding to negative viewer comments after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. She received her walking papers after she responded to a negative comment about her natural hair.

Emmitt Vascou voiced his opinion about Lee’s hair after he watched her during the local news. Vascou posted on Facebook:

“the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news. what about that (cq).”

After reading the comment, Lee responded:

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.

After Lee’s firing made national coverage, the television station clarified why she was fired on its Facebook page. Here is the official KTBS response about Lee and another employee’s firing below.

Typically this station does not comment on personnel matters, but due to the publicity and interest about this issue, the station has included the following statement.

On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country.

Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow.

Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.

KTBS later fired her, saying that she violated an ‘unwritten rule.’

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