Two former KSL radio reporters testified in federal court Monday that they believed the radio station laid them off recently to retaliate against them for complaints they had made against station management.
Former KSL managing editor Robert Schildmeyer, 46, believes the station laid him off April 26 to retaliate against an age discrimination suit he filed against the station in 1989. He has asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Greene to order the radio station to give him his job back.Former reporter Charla Haley, 34, believes KSL laid her off to retaliate for a complaint she had made about allegations of sexual remarks News Director Rod Arquette made to her. While Haley is not seeking a court order to get her job back, she testified Monday to aid Schildmeyer's cause. Schildmeyer's lawyer told Greene that Haley's testimony helped show a pattern of management retaliation against employees.
KSL attorneys will present their arguments in defense of Schildmeyer's dismissal on Tuesday.
Asked to testify about Arquette's comments, Haley said, "He asked me on three different occasions what color underwear I was wearing." On Haley's birthday in 1989, Arquette made a sexually explicit remark about what her husband would do for Haley's birthday, she testified.
Haley complained about the remarks to a colleague, who passed that complaint on to Arquette's boss, she testified. After that, Arquette was very cold to her, she said.
"Isn't it true your conduct invited such remarks," asked KSL's attorney, Clark Waddoups. "No, it did not," Haley replied.
Haley and Schildmeyer were two of four KSL employees laid off April 26. Haley had been with the station 11 years, Schildmeyer for 16. The two other employees, both in their 20s and with the station a much shorter time, continued to work at the station through May 3, Haley testified. At least one of them received encouragement to apply for three positions the station opened, she said.
However, station officials urged Haley and Schildmeyer to leave the premises immediately after being laid off and did not encourage either one to apply for the new positions, they both testified.
Haley and Schildmeyer both testified that they believed they were terminated in retaliation for problems they had with KSL management. Schildmeyer believes he was laid off because he filed an age discrimination suit against the station in 1989 after it passed him over for promotion in favor of a younger, less experienced man. Shortly after passing Schildmeyer over, the station demoted him and slashed his salary by one-third, Schildmeyer testified.
Schildmeyer has eight children, seven living at home. Since his demotion and pay cut in 1989, he has worked the graveyard shift at Rainbo Oil for extra income, he said. "I clean bathrooms. I do all kinds of `grunt work.' But it brings in some extra money. We have to buy our clothes at Deseret Industries. My kids talk about getting ridiculed by their friends because of their clothing."