Rafferty had been an anchor at the station for 13 years before suffering a stroke on-air in 2006. According to the Portland Press Herald, Rafferty’s attorneys David Webbert and Matthew Keegan said Rafferty had fully recovered from the stroke by 2007.
In 2007, General Manager Terry Cole and News Director Robert Atkinson told Mr. Rafferty that the station was removing him from ‘the chair.’ In other words, the station was removing Mr. Rafferty from his anchor position,” says the seven-page complaint in the lawsuit. “When Mr. Rafferty was replaced as anchor, he was 55 years old. His replacement was in his early 40s.”
Rafferty stayed on at the station doing some broadcast work and eventually assumed a role behind the scenes. At the time, he told the Maine Sun Journal, “Leaving the anchor desk is hard, but change and excitement are some things I’ve been looking for. The daily grind of turning out half-hour newscasts is not doing it for me.” He also told the Sun-Journal the decision had nothing to do with the stroke he suffered.
The Press-Herald said WGME management told Rafferty in 2011 they were cutting his pay from $93,000 to $45,000 due to his new role.
“I think they saw him as damaged goods, and they eased him out over the passage of time,” Webbert said. “One of the issues for him was, when he got his pay decreased, he had a daughter in college and a daughter on the way to college. He was willing to put up with a certain amount. … They basically told him ‘goodbye.”
TVSpy received a “no comment” about the lawsuit from current WGME general manager Tom Humpage.
Rafferty started at WGME in 1991 after working at WTTV in Indianapolis for 18 years. He currently heads the Division of Public Information and Education for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Photo courtesy Portland Press Herald