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Portland Reporter Suing Sinclair for Failing to Pay Overtime

sinclair_304Attorneys for former KATU investigative reporter Thom Jensen have filed a suit seeking class action status for a federal lawsuit saying Sinclair Broadcasting Group failed to pay overtime to news reporters at its stations in Oregon, reports The Register-Guard.

Jensen, who worked at the Portland ABC affiliate from October 2006 until December 2012, alleges he regularly worked between five to 10 hours of overtime each week without getting paid for it.

The lawsuit would include people who worked at KATU in Portland as well as those who worked at KMTR and KVAL in Eugene. Fisher Communications, which owned the stations before Sinclair announced it was buying the station group in April, is also named in the suit.

Also, the lawsuit claims Jensen has post-traumatic stress disorder and that the Portland station refused to accommodate his disability. The suit alleges Jensen was fired because of that disability and in retaliation for complaining about not receiving overtime pay.

Jensen claims the company created a stressful and difficult working environment that worsened his illness.

“Cursing, yelling and belittling others was commonplace in the newsroom by management,” the suit claims. “Fisher’s wrongful conduct exacerbated plaintiff’s PTSD.”

According to the suit, Fisher refused Jensen’s requests to move his desk and switch to the night shift to accommodate his disability. The company also claimed that news reporters fall into a job classification that is exempt from receiving overtime pay, even though Jensen provided documentation to the contrary, the suit alleges.

The suit charges that Fisher violated state and federal labor rules, the Americans With Disabilities Act and whistleblower laws. No trial date has been set.

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