(CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss a former Washington Times opinion editor’s claim that the newspaper breached his employment contract after he refused to help the human resource director falsify a document to keep her son in a certain school district.
Richard Miniter began working for the Washington Times in 2008 as a consultant to former president and publisher Thomas McDevitt. He was later hired as the editor of the editorial page, earning $225,000 a year.
But Miniter had a falling out with the human resources director, Sonya Jenkins.
According to Miniter, Jenkins repeatedly asked him to lie on a document stating that her son lived at Miniter’s address. The document would have kept her son in an elementary school in the district where Miniter lived.
Miniter claimed he was hospitalized for five days with severe chest pain, which he blamed on stress from Jenkins’ request.
Miniter said Jenkins retaliated against him for not completing the form by launching two investigations into Miniter’s “management style” and ordering him to work from home.
Times “insiders” allegedly tipped off the media to the investigations, causing Miniter to be “held up for ridicule” and “humiliated … for being ‘AWOL’ from his job.”
Miniter was later offered a new employment contract that substantially lowered his salary. When Miniter did not agree to the new contract, he said the Times stopped paying him.
He brought a slew of claims against the Times, Jenkins and publisher Jonathan Slevin, including breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false light.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina in Washington, D.C., dismissed some of the claims against Jenkins, saying Miniter failed to show that her activities caused his health problems or that she had anything to do with the leak that resulted in negative press coverage.
Urbina similarly tossed all claims against the publisher.
However, the judge allowed Miniter to proceed with claim that the Times breached its oral agreement to hire him for one year, for a salary of $225,000 a year, plus a $5,000 signing bonus and benefits.
“The Washington Times concedes that it made such an offer to the plaintiff and that, for some period of time, it compensated the plaintiff in accordance with those terms,” Urbina wrote.