New York City radio personality Shaila Scott, who was fired by R&B station WBLS in May after nearly three decades on the air, is now suing her former employer for discrimination and retaliation.
In a complaint filed Friday in Manhattan federal court, attorneys for Scott (real name Amilee Cattouse) accused station owners MediaCo Holding Inc. and Emmis Communications Corp. of discriminating against the longtime host, who has been referred to as “Radio Royalty,” on the basis of both age and gender.
Among other things, they say managers at WBLS — a popular urban adult contemporary station in New York — “ridiculed” her for age, telling her not to play “old Negro spirituals” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and not to create a concert lineup that was “too geriatric.”
“Despite her outstanding rankings, on or about May 9, 2022, MediaCo fired Cattouse, claiming that it was going in a ‘new direction,” Scott’s lawyers wrote. “MediaCo replaced Cattouse with an on-air personality in her thirties.”
The lawsuit claims Scott was also paid substantially less than her male colleagues with similar on-air roles at Hot97, a popular sister station also owned by MediaCo, despite her “superior ratings and ability to generate revenue.”
In technical terms, Scott says her firing amounts to both discrimination and retaliation under federal and state labor laws. The lawsuit did not seek a specific amount of damages.
“I am shocked and saddened that WBLS decided that when I reached 59, it was time to discard me,” Scott said in a statement released by her law firm. “I hope my decision to speak up will shine a light on the realities that women still get paid less than men for the same job and at a certain age, they are no longer valued.”
A spokesperson for WBLS did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.
Read Scott’s full complaint here: