January 19, 2007
WFAA-TV Prevails on Majority of Claims Brought by Former Employee Scott Sams in Arbitration
DALLAS -- Arbitrator William Hartsfield issued an opinion holding that WFAA-TV prevailed on all claims but one brought against it by former employee Scott Sams. The amount awarded was less than 4% of what Sams and his attorneys were seeking in the arbitration.
"We consider this an excellent result for WFAA, and we are glad to have it behind us," said Kathy Clements, the station's president and general manager.
The arbitrator expressly concluded that there was no discrimination whatsoever in WFAA's decision to terminate Sams' contract. Sams brought claims of age, religion, gender and race discrimination, and the arbitrator completely vindicated WFAA on each of these claims. The arbitrator also found that Sams was not subjected to an unlawful hostile work environment. The only finding against WFAA was the arbitrator's conclusion that the station retaliated against Sams by terminating him in part because he lodged a complaint with its human resources department.
"On the whole we are pleased with the opinion of the arbitrator," said Clements. "However, we strongly disagree with the arbitrator on the issue of retaliation. We actively encourage our employees to go to human resources immediately if they have any concerns about harassment or discrimination in the workplace."
Clements added that the station has a strict policy against retaliation. "We simply do not tolerate it," she said, "and it did not happen here."
WFAA-TV is a subsidiary of Belo Corp., one of the nation's largest media companies with a diversified group of market-leading television, newspaper, cable and interactive media assets. A Fortune 1000 company with 7,400 employees and more than $1.5 billion in annual revenues, Belo operates in some of America's most dynamic markets in Texas, the Northwest, the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic and Rhode Island. Belo owns 19 television stations, six of which are in the 15 largest U.S. broadcast markets. The Company also owns or operates seven cable news channels and manages one television station through a local marketing agreement. Belo's daily newspapers are The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) and the Denton Record-Chronicle (Denton, TX). The Company also publishes specialty publications targeting young adults, and the fast-growing Hispanic market, including Quick and Al Dia in Dallas/Fort Worth, and El D and La Prensa in Riverside. Belo operates more than 30 Web sites associated with its operating companies. Additional information is available at www.belo.com . For more information on WFAA contact Dave Muscari, vice president/product development at 214-977-6490.