WASHINGTON (CN) – A former senior photojournalist at CNN claims in court the cable news outfit fired him after he dislocated his knee on the job, refusing to accept his requests for lighter work to accommodate his injury.
Martin Dougherty, 53, also claims CNN never paid him $30,000 he earned while on travel for assignments as outlined in the CNN company manual.
Dougherty dislocated his knee on New Year’s Eve 2016 while working in Elkins Park, Pa., preventing him from lifting the heavy cameras and equipment that comes with being a professional photographer.
He says he told his managers in Washington, D.C. a week after his injury was diagnosed, and told them he could return to work by March 7, according to the complaint filed March 15 in Washington, D.C. Superior Court.
But on Feb. 10, 2016, Dougherty received a letter, which was dated from the year before, saying that he had already exhausted his leave under the Family Medical Leave Act and that CNN would have to replace him “to meet the pressing business and operation needs,” the 23-page complaint says.
Dougherty says he never used any medical leave time, and that his supervisors wouldn’t accept his requests to take a desk job while he completed his physical therapy.
Instead, he claims, they told him CNN would only allow him to return after he was totally healthy and had no restrictions.
Dougherty says he then learned CNN was trying to fill his position, and that he asked his supervisor to top the effort because he was only two weeks from returning.
“We have already waited five weeks and it is what it is,” Dougherty’s supervisor said, according to the complaint.
On March 17th, 2016, the complaint says, Dougherty learned his job had been filled and that he’d effectively been fire.
He says CNN replaced him with a man in his 30s.
Dougherty seeks front and back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
He is represented by A.J. Dahli of Washington, D.C.
Dahli declined to comment on the lawsuit before being able to speak with his client.
A representative of CNN did not respond to a request for comment.