Radio Sales Exec Wins Retaliation Claim

     HOUSTON (CN) – A former Radio One employee will take another stab at her sex-discrimination claims after securing one win against the radio broadcasting company for retaliation.

     Corina Allen said she was a commended employee at Radio One of Texas II where she spent five years as the general sales manager for its Houston radio station, KBXX.
     Things turned sour when her supervisor, Doug Abernethy, who “displayed a decided preference for male employees over female employees,” bypassed her for promotions and ultimately saw to her termination, Allen said in her first amended complaint.
     Allen initially received a written warning when “Abernathy claimed that Allen’s co-workers had complained that she was destroying her team’s morale and was abusive and demeaning to her co-workers and subordinates,” according to the complaint.
     “Abernethy’s accusations against Allen were trumped-up complaints based on reports from a single disgruntled account executive,” the complaint states.
     Five months after the warning, Allen said the supervisor cited her “demeanor” as a problem, and gave her the boot.
     During her hunt for a new job, Allen claimed the Radio One supervisor retaliated against her. “[W]hen Abernethy learned of Allen’s upcoming interview with CBS, he stated during a meeting at Radio One that he would make sure Allen did not get hired by CBS,” the complaint says.
     Allen said the retaliation continued when she formed Radio Results Specialists (RRS). Noting that Allen had filed a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission following her termination, Abernethy barred Allen’s new advertising agency from placing ads with Radio One, according to the complaint.
     Allen sued for sex discrimination and retaliation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.
     U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. tossed the sex discrimination claims in April and likewise sided with Radio One in its counterclaim for breach of contract, but refused to issue a summary judgment for the retaliation charge.
     Judge Weirlin didn’t buy plaintiff’s argument that sex was the reason Radio One promoted a male employee to a position that Allen had desired.
     The judge further concluded that, “Allen fails to raise a fact issue that the proffered reason for her discharge was false, or that any of the inconsistencies in events at Radio One were motivated by sex discrimination.”
     As for the breach of contract claim, Radio One argued that Allen defied her employment contract by not returning confidential documents.
     According to the ruling, Allen held onto “Top Advertiser sheets listing all of the advertisers and the 2006 revenues generated from each, the very kind of business information that is described as ‘confidential.'”
     “Allen admitted in her deposition that she had kept the documents in her possession past her termination date,” the judge stated in the April order. “There is no controverting evidence to refute this proof that the confidential information was disclosed to Allen and was in her possession before her contract period ended.”
     A jury later considered Allen’s retaliation claim and returned a May verdict in her favor.
     Though the jury awarded her $750,000 for punitive damages, judge Werlein wrote in a June order on equitable relief, that it “must be reduced to $290,000, which together with the $10,000 awarded by the Jury for Plaintiff’s emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life, will comply with the statutory cap of $300,000 applicable to Defendant.” To this, the judge added there would be another $6,000 for lost income and $333,000 for attorney’s fees.
     The judge also demanded that Radio One conduct business with Allen as it would with any other person or agency.
      Since Allen no longer had any confidential items belonging to Radio One and did not make use of those items she previously had, the judge found no reason to provide anything further to Radio One for the breach of contract. The dispute continues between the radio broadcasting company and its former employee in the Houston federal court.
     Allen filed a motion for new trial on July 7, seeking a reconsideration of her sex discrimination claims, while Radio One filed a renewed motion for judgment on the same day.

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