A popular morning radio show in Toronto has been put on hiatus amid claims of verbal abuse and gender-based discrimination from a high-profile broadcaster who used to work there, according to the station’s owner.
Corus Entertainment Inc. says it has pulled Q107’s Derringer in the Morning off the air amid an external ethics and conduct review.
That announcement comes three days after the former Q107 radio personality Jennifer Valentyne posted a video widely shared online condemning the way she was treated by her former employer and co-workers. She doesn’t name in the video but the popular broadcaster alleges she was the victim of verbal abuse from male co-workers and discrimination at the company.
In an email to CBC News on Tuesday, Valentyne said the subject of the video is Q107, Corus and show host John Derringer.
“This has been living inside me for a very long time and it needed to come out at some point. I didn’t want my voice and others to be silent anymore,” Valentyne said in the email.
“There is a double standard that still exists and that must change. When one woman is treated with disrespect in the workplace it impacts all of us. The overwhelming response from women with similar experiences supports the need for equality.”
‘Enough is enough’
Valentyne has also filed a Canadian Human Rights complaint against Corus. She has not shared the contents, but has confirmed that Derringer is named in the complaint.
CBC Toronto has reached out to Derringer for comment, but has not yet received a response.
In the video, Valentyne outlines the derogatory treatment that women in the broadcast industry are forced to endure. She says that women in the field largely keep things to themselves, because they don’t want to be known as troublemakers and want to keep their jobs.
“But sometimes, enough is enough,” she said in the video.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Corus said it’s aware that Valentyne has voiced concerns about her time in the broadcasting industry, including her time with the company.
“A few years ago, Ms. Valentyne shared certain concerns and we took action to review at that time. There is also a process underway with the Canadian Human Rights Commission,” the statement reads.
“We have had mediated conversations with her, been responsive to proceedings, and we are waiting for determination of next steps. We take these matters seriously and look forward to a resolution,” the statement continues.
“Over the past two days we have received new information about workplace concerns. We have referred these to our ethics and conduct team and have retained Rachel Turnpenney from Turnpenney Milne LLP to immediately conduct an external investigation. Effective the show Derringer in the Morning will be on hiatus pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
As of Tuesday, the Derringer in the Morning show page had also been pulled off of the Q107 website.
Any concerns involving employee experience are of the utmost importance to us and we are committed to listen, learn and take any appropriate action. Out of respect for confidentiality and privacy of those involved and the formal processes underway, we will not comment on specific details ,” the statement from Corus reads.
In her video, Valentyne said she had dealt with a host of issues at work, one of which included being exposed to two, sometimes three men vaping in an enclosed room for four hours a day with no ventilation.
She alleged she developed a chronic cough, completely lost her voice twice, and found it hard to breathe at work. Valentyne says a doctor prescribed her an inhaler and steroids, and told her to stay away from people who are vaping.
Other broadcasters make claims
Other high-profile Toronto radio personalities are sharing similar stories.
Jacqui Deyy, now the director of parliamentary affairs for Senator Leo Housakos, said she was berated by Derringer when she worked on the show in 2002.
Maureen Holloway, who was on the show for 15 years, said she was the target of verbal attacks from Derringer too. She worked in the studio as a co-host from 2010 to 2015. Holloway called Derringer a “bully” and not just with women.
She accused him of aggressive behaviour, of flying into rages and of giving people the silent treatment when angry.
Holloway said Derringer’s behavior is one isolated example but said gender-based discrimination is rampant in the industry.