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Did The Weather Channel Fire Nicole Mitchell Because Of Military Duty?

Capt. Nicole Mitchell
Capt. Nicole Mitchell

Former "The Weather Channel" meteorologist Nicole Mitchell is suing her one-time employer. Capt. Mitchell alleges the network did not renew her contract because of her service in the Air Force Reserve.

Capt. Mitchell has been with the Air Force Reserve for almost 20 years, and now serves with the 403rd Wing Hurricane Hunters at Keesler Air Force Base.

Michell wrote on her Facebook page that although Georgia (where TWC is located) is an at-will employment state, in her case there is an exception:

"[Y]ou cannot make the decision to terminate or non-renew based on an illegal motivation. For example, if you were renewing other contracts, but decided not to renew one person because you did not like their race, religion, gender, etc....those are protected "classes", thus you cannot terminate or non-renew if that is why you are making the decision.

"Military service is protected in the same way. You can let someone go, but not if the inconvenience of their military schedule is the reason you are doing it."
Mitchell filed the lawsuit against The Weather Channel and its owners: NBC/Universal, Bain Capital, and the Blackstone Group, according to the Sun Herald.

The Weather Channel released a statement in response to Mitchell's lawsuit:

The Weather Channel is committed to creating a work atmosphere free of discrimination and in compliance with The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 ("USERRA"), and its owners support that commitment. This is a commitment that we have always taken very seriously. We cannot comment on pending litigation, but as with many situations, there is more than one version of what occurred. We disagree with many of the assertions in the plaintiff's press statements and intend to vigorously defend the matter in the arbitration process.

In a final twist of irony, The Weather Channel premiered a new documentary TV series called "Hurricane Hunters" this week.