Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tribune Company Sued For Pregnancy Discrimination By Former Fox 59 Employee

Amanda Price worked as a sales account executive for WXIN-Fox 59 in Indianapolis until this past September when she claims she was constructively discharged from her employment only months after she had first disclosed her pregnancy to the TV station's management. In a lawsuit alleging pregnancy discrimination and a hostile work environment based upon her sex filed earlier this month in the federal district court in Indianapolis against WXIN's parent company, The Tribune Company, Price alleges that her supervisor reacted negatively to news of her pregnancy, asking her a number of degrading questions, and questioned whether she had carefully considered going through with the pregnancy.

According to Price's complaint, she was not married or engaged to be married when she disclosed in June of this year her pregnancy at a meeting that included her supervisor, Tom Comerford, Director of Sales for the station, in the presence of two other members of the station's sales staff. Price alleges in her complaint that Comerford peppered her with a series of derogatory questions and comments, including: "Whose Is It? Are you getting married? You haven't thought this through. Why are you being a stupid bitch? You should be a guest on the Maury Povich Show so [you] can find out the identity of the 'baby daddy.'" Price says she left the meeting "shocked and traumatized," and Comerford "continued to degrade and harass her" after the meeting. Price alleges that Comerford approached another female co-worker in the office and implied to her that Price "had clearly not considered all of her available options including abortion." In a later meeting, Price alleges that she was in tears as Comerford blamed her for presenting her pregnancy in an "immature manner."

Price later spoke to the station's general manager, Larry Delia, about the concerns she had with how Comerford had treated her and the fact that the other employees present during the meeting had began talking to other employees and vendors of the station about her pregnancy, making the situation more unbearable for her. Delia told Price according to the complaint that he had learned of the comments Comerford had allegedly made but that he was heading out of town on vacation and would not be able to look into the matter further until he returned from vacation. After Delia returned from vacation more than a week later, he placed Comerford on a two and one-half day suspension the complaint alleges, but when he returned to work he continued to supervise Price, requiring her to interact with him on a daily basis. On the advice of her doctor, Price took a several week unpaid leave from her job due to the emotional stress she says she faced from the hostile work environment but had to return to work in late August "due to financial constraints." Price worked another month until she could no longer "handle the stress and anxiety created by her continued interaction with Comerford" and the station's "failure to take steps to protect her." After leaving her job, Price gave birth to her child prematurely due to preeclampsia.

Price's complaint seeks damages of not less than $150,000 for lost wages, compensatory damages, back pay and benefits, and front pay and benefits, in addition to her attorney's fees. A copy of Price's complaint can be viewed here.

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