Toronto TV icon posts explosive video detailing rampant workplace sexism
Longtime Toronto radio personality John Derringer has reportedly been taken off the air at Q107 pending a third-party investigation as support swells for his former co-host (and true Canadian treasure) Jennifer Valentyne, who over the weekend released a video containing some disturbing allegations.
Valentyne revealed in a powerful, roughly 13-minute-long video on Saturday that she had filed a gender discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against a former employer.
While she doesn't name any specific companies or people, she does detail several incidents that took place during her time at Q107 and Global News Morning, both of which are owned by Corus Entertainment.
"What would you do if a coworker screamed at you, belittled you, called you names, shut you out, brought you to tears and then laughed when he told you to cry all you want — that he didn't feel one bit sorry for you, and let you know with utter conviction that if you went to HR, they would choose him?" she asks at the beginning of her video, which was posted to her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles.
"All this while three other men watched uncomfortably, yet supported him, because they knew what would happen to them if they went against them."
"Would you take a dream job working as a radio host if you knew you would be working with a co-host with accusations of prior abusive behaviour towards women? And that you would also be exposed to two, sometimes three men vaping in an enclosed room for four hours a day with no ventilation," she continued.
"Would you complain about it if you knew that women before you were moved from that room, eliminated, because they spoke up. Would you complain knowing they would choose to support the man no matter what issues were brought forward, and it would put your job in jeopardy? Because history had proved that? What would you do?"
The longtime Breakfast Television reporter and mom of two wasn't speaking in theoreticals; She alleges that all of this (and more) happened to her at work, and that, when she finally got the courage to complain, her job was taken away from her. Twice.
Valentyne does not name Derringer, though context suggests that he was the aforementioned co-host with allegations of previous abusive behaviour toward women.
No less than three women who've worked with the 60-year-old Derringer in the Morning host have now also spoken publicly and declared their support for Valentyne, and they weren't shy about naming names.
Former Q107 radio Jacqui Delaney reposted Valentyne's video on Facebook, writing "Hear! Hear! Good for her for calling it out and taking action; not just the years of gender bias in the workplace but especially the abuse at the hands of Q107 Toronto morning man John Derringer."
Another of Derringer's former co-hosts, Maureen Holloway, retweeted Valentyne, writing "This is brave and true. I back Jennifer up 100 percent."
Current and former radio personalities Andrea Rooz, Teri Hart, and Raina Douris, among other women in media, have all come forward with similar stories about the abusive conditions on Derringer's show, which Valentyne joined in 2017.
Jennifer Valentyne was understandably careful about not saying names in relation to her awful experiences. But I don't mind saying, it's all about CORUS Entertainment owner of @GlobalTV and @Q107Toronto and protector of @JohnDerringer. #Toronto #discrimination #toxicworkplace— Carly Chamberlain (she/her) (@ChuckieChamb) May 22, 2022
"I started to throw up most mornings before I went into the room, never knowing what to expect or what mood he would be in," said Valentyne of her co-host. "Sometimes during songs I would cry in the washroom."
And yet, fearing repercussions ("I was very aware that if you complained, you were out"), she stayed silent. Until she couldn't anymore.
"Like so many women, I put up and shut up. But there was one thing I just couldn't put up with — a company that was willing to put my physical health in jeopardy," she said, explaining that she would be confined for hours at a time to a small room with men who were vaping.
The longtime media professional developed a chronic cough and lost her voice twice. Her doctor prescribed inhalers and told her to stay away from vape smoke, but nothing changed.
So she filed a formal complaint. And then another one when the problem failed to resolve, eventually going all the way up the chain to Corus CEO Doug Murphy.
A short time later, she was told she'd be taken off the radio and put into a TV news role — with a salary cut, fewer bonuses and less vacation time.
Valentyne says was told by a VP that there would be a "problem" if she didn't move from radio to TV, so, despite fearing that she was only being transferred to be fired, she moved into the new role and crushed it, often working overtime to boost the show's ratings "significantly."
She was fired, nonetheless, after just a year in that role by an executive who had, since day one, criticized her as a "fluff" lifestyle reporter, and "not a real journalist."
She was devastated and took some time away from everything to recover. After much soul searching, Valentyne made the decision to register a complaint with the CHRC "for gender discrimination against women at that company."
Women all over the country are applauding the move and thanking Jenn for speaking out against something so many of us experience.
Such a hardworking, positive and fun person. She was treated horribly and expected to disappear. I’m glad she has spoken up. Follow her on TikTok - she’s still a joy. #jennifervalentyne #torontomedia #genderdiscrimination https://t.co/SSyGn6Lm8k— Livie Silva (@SilvaLivie) May 22, 2022
"We as women learn how to think outside the box so we don't get let go or our roles aren't diminished, or we aren't moved to a position where it's easier to eliminate us," said Valentyne in her video.
"So we put up with disrespectful treatment, not getting deserved promotions, making less than our male counterparts, while often working harder, especially when we hit a certain age, in any business."
While she says she's had so many amazing experiences over her decades-long career in television broadcasting, Valentyne also detailed some particularly troubling moments from earlier in her life, before she was with Corus.
"Like anything in life, there are good times, and there are not so good times — times you don't talk about because, as a woman, you want to keep your job. You want to work again. You DON'T want to be known as a troublemaker... But sometimes, enough is enough."
Among the inappropriate things said to her by men in the television industry over the years are:
The veteran broadcaster says she was told at the age of 34 that she was lucky to even have a job, as "most women your age are out the door in this business."
"I've seen strong, talented and valuable women speak up justifiably and lose their job. Complained to HR and lose their job. Confront their abuser and lose their job. Take full maternity leave and lose their job. Four months pregnant and lose their job. Get older, and lose their job," said Valentyne in her video, noting that the latter happened to her in 2016 after 23 years of hosting a successful TV segment.
She was offered a one-year contract for lower pay in a completely different role at the time.
"The man on the other end of the phone said it was 'a good transition for a woman my age'," said Valentyne, who was 48 when she lost her job.
"This was coming from a man who was older than me and still working in the job he was trained for, who was not being offered a lesser job with a pay cut."
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