TV

Was a CBS 11 traffic reporter passed over for job because of her age?

The EEOC has filed a age discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Tammy Campbell, known on TV as Tammy Dombeck.
The EEOC has filed a age discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Tammy Campbell, known on TV as Tammy Dombeck. YouTube

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against CBS Stations Group of Texas, which includes KTVT/Channel 11, claiming the company declined to hire longtime TV personality Tammy Dombeck for a full-time position because of her age.

The suit claims KTVT/Channel 11 — also know as CBS 11 — violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, according to a news release.

A CBS Dallas-Fort Worth spokeswoman sent a statement that said, “KTVT respectfully disagrees with the EEOC’s current assessment and looks forward to resolving this matter.”

Dombeck worked as a freelance traffic reporter at CBS 11 beginning in February 2013. In late April 2015, Dombeck posted on her Facebook page “it is with great disappointment that I write this post to you today, CBSDFW has decided not to hire me for the Morning Traffic Position.”

Before Dombeck was at CBS 11, she spent 12 years at KXAS/Channel 5 as its “Gridlock Buster” traffic reporter. She left NBC 5 in 2012. Dombeck did fill-in work in the morning and occasionally afternoons on CBS 11, with her morning duties increasing after full-time traffic reporter Whitney Drolen left in October 2014.

After Drolen’s departure, the station initiated a search for a replacement, stating that “the ideal candidate will have a strong knowledge of local traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area” and that the “applicant must have at least 5 years professional broadcasting experience,” according to the EEOC’s news release.

Dombeck, who is identified in the suit by her married name, Tammy Campbell, applied for the job, according to the EEOC release. “CBS 11 hired a 24-year-old applicant for the full-time traffic reporter position,” the EEOC statement says. “The younger applicant did not have five years’ professional broadcasting experience, nor did she have any broadcast experience in the DFW metro area.”

Dombeck was over 40 at the time she applied for the position.

“All the girls they auditioned for this job were in their 20s,” Dombeck told the Star-Telegram via Facebook email in 2015. “I didn’t have a chance. Frustrating.”

Local-media blogger Ed Bark quickly reported after Dombeck’s departure that Chelsey Davis, a former Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader, was the front-runner for the traffic position, and the station made it official on May 1, 2015.

Davis left in late 2016, and Fort Worth-raised Madison Adams took over the traffic reporter position in December. Recently married, she now goes by Madison Sawyer and is still the station’s traffic reporter.

Among the major-network TV stations in DFW, only Fox-owned KDFW/Channel 4 has an all-male staff of traffic reporters, with longtime DFW personality Chip Waggoner and backup Todd Caruth. KXAS/Channel 5 usually has Samantha Davies, who doubles as one of the station’s meteorologists, doing traffic, although reporter Lexi Houghtaling has done some recent fill-in work on traffic.

Lauren Nevitt handles traffic duties for WFAA/Channel 8. In January, Bark reported on the departure of Sgt. Nick Bristow, an actual DeSoto police officer who had been doing traffic for the station since August 2014. WFAA and the Star-Telegram are content partners.

Robert Philpot: 817-390-7872, @rphilpot

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