DALLAS (CN) – A Texas judge warned employees of Glenn Beck’s conservative TheBlaze network Monday that they face fines or jail time if they violated his non-disparagement order in commentator Tomi Lahren’s lawsuit over being taken off the air after expressing pro-abortion rights views.
State District Judge Martin Hoffman ordered the network to find and turn over any email messages between its employees and The Daily Caller relating to an article portraying Lahren as an unprofessional, difficult diva to work with.
Hoffman said at a Monday afternoon hearing that if he determines network employees violated his order, they will face up to six months in jail or up to $500 in fines. He also ordered Beck, a corporate representative and up to three employees to be available for depositions.
Lahren, 24, asked Hoffman to hold Beck and TheBlaze in contempt because the article was published after he issued a temporary restraining order last week that restored Lahren’s access to her Facebook profile and blocked both sides from criticizing each other.
Lahren sued Beck and his Irving, Texas-based network on April 7, claiming she was fired after an appearance on ABC’s “The View” in March where she said it was hypocritical to support limited government while at the same time thinking that “the government should decide what women do with their bodies.”
Lahren has maintained that she was fired, while the defendants say in a countersuit that she is still employed, is still being paid and that they are choosing not to extend her contract in September because of allegedly bad behavior around co-workers that predates her “The View” appearance.
Lahren silently nodded as her attorney, Brian P. Lauten with Deans Lyons in Dallas, told the judge that the article damaged how employable she can be to other networks in the future.
The defendants filed a response on Monday to Lahren’s motion for sanctions, agreeing with Lahren that the statements reported in The Daily Caller’s article are “distasteful and disappointing.”
The article accuses Lahren of treating staffers and floor workers with “contempt and disdain,” saying she would “enjoy provoking her colleagues” and cared more about “causing controversy – whether good or bad – than she cared about being honest.”
The story claims that she would demand staffers heat up her “butt warming pad” in the microwave before every show. An anonymous source said the demand was “absurd” and “dehumanizing.”
Beck and TheBlaze say there is “absolutely no evidence” they or anyone they authorized made the statements to The Daily Caller, according to the nine-page response. They say they took “all reasonable, necessary and appropriate steps” to ensure their employees’ compliance with the judge’s order.
Defense attorney Eliot Burriss, with McDermott Will in Dallas, told Judge Hoffman the network has already begun to search for communications between employees and The Daily Caller.
In their response, the defendants attached a copy of an email message sent to employees the day after Hoffman’s order instructing them to not make statements disparaging Lahren.
Lahren has remained unapologetic for her pro-abortion rights views, saying after the lawsuit was filed that she would never get an abortion herself but that option should be available for women during the first trimester of pregnancy.