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Settlement Reached in Anchor’s Suit Against Sinclair’s Portland Station

raffertyFormer Portland, ME, anchor Doug Rafferty has reached a settlement in the lawsuit he filed in February against CBS affiliate WGME and its parent company Sinclair Broadcasting, according to the Kennebec Journal

Rafferty, who currently serves as a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, had been with the station for 13 years before suffering a stroke on air in January 2006.

“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.”

The Kennebec Journal reports the settlement was reached “by mutual agreement.” Terms of the settlement were not available.
In 2011, WGME cut Rafferty’s pay from $93,000 to $45,000 because the station said his new behind-the-scenes role and occasional on-air work was not worth as much as his previous position

The lawsuit against WGME and its parent company, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., demanded a jury trial and sought a monetary award for lost wages and benefits, and other damages.

“I can’t make any comment on personnel issues,” current WGME general manager Tom Humpage said when contacted on Monday about the settlement.

No one at Sinclair Broadcast Group immediately responded to a message seeking comment.

In January 2007, Rafferty told the Portland Press Herald that leaving his position as news anchor had nothing to do with the stroke and that he felt “fine.” Rafferty left WGME last year.

He first filed discrimination complaints against WGME with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in December 2011, after his salary was cut to $45,000.

The state commission dismissed his complaint in April 2012 and the federal commission dismissed his complaint in January this year, according to the lawsuit.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has won one lawsuit against Sinclair Broadcast Group, in a discrimination case against one of its television stations, KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City.

The federal agency accused KOKH-TV of paying a black, female reporter less than her co-workers, and a federal court ordered the station to pay the reporter $45,000 and show her additional consideration.

Neither WGME nor Sinclair Broadcast Group has any record of being sued in Maine, according to the clerk’s office in the Cumberland County Courthouse. There are no records of cases against WGME or Sinclair Broadcast Group in federal courts in Maine.

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