Sexual discrimination lawsuit against WTLC owner thrown out

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A sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by a fired employee of Indianapolis stations WTLC-FM and WTLC-AM has been thrown out by the judge in the case.

In the lawsuit filed in June 2014 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana, Kelly Vaughn said she conceived of a program featuring WTLC personality Amos Brown and local political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz prior to being hired in 2012 as a part-time announcer at the WTLC stations by Maryland-based media company Radio One.

Once “The Amos & Abdul Show” aired locally on WHMB-TV Channel 40, management at WTLC fired Vaughn for working on the show’s development, the suit claims. However, Brown, who allegedly helped develop the show, was not fired.

Vaughn sued on the grounds of sexual discrimination, saying the company merely disciplined Brown but fired her over their involvement in the project. Brown died unexpectedly in November.

Vaughn’s suit requested lost wages, benefits and other compensation from Radio One, as well as unspecified compensatory, consequential and punitive damages.

“We still believe this case is viable,” said Rich Hailey, partner in the local law firm Ramey & Hailey, which represents Vaughn. “We believe she deserves her day in court.”

Hailey expected a decision on whether or not to appeal some time this week.

“We obviously disagree with the ruling. But we have to look at the economic feasibility of taking the next step and whether that’s the best interest of our client ultimately,” Hailey said.

Radio One officials called the allegations of sexual discrimination "plainly fabricated." They said they had been discussing the creation of a radio show for Brown and Shabazz prior to hiring Vaughn and said that her involvement in the WHMB-TV show was a conflict of interest.

In its ruling handed down Dec. 30, the court stated that Brown had very different “employment responsibilities [from Vaughn] …and their responses to Radio One’s conflict determination were drastically different.”

Radio One said it “disciplined Amos Brown by issuing a formal written warning” and that he was “contrite” and “fully cooperated and promptly remedied his conflict of interest.”

But Vaughn ultimately stonewalled the station, Radio One said in its response to the lawsuit. Vaughn was terminated on March 5, 2013.

Radio One further stated that “except for [market manager] Chuck Williams, every other person involved in the termination decision was female.”

Williams was not available for comment Monday morning.

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