A popular talk show radio host in San Francisco filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the KNBR radio station, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Longtime host Ralph Barbieri, who is in the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, claims he was terminated after 28 years are the station because of his Parkinsons’s disease. KNBR cited tardiness as the reason for Barbieri’s termination.
“The whole tardiness issue is just a cover-up to get rid of someone who is sick,” says Anegela Alioto, Barbieri’s attorney.
Cumulus, Inc., the station’s parent company, say there is no cover-up and tardiness was the reason for his termination. Bill Bungeroth, a Cumulus executive, described the lawsuit as “baseless.”
“The simple fact is that Ralph refused to honor some of the most basic terms of his contract,” said Bungeroth in a released statement. “As a result, KNBR exercised its right to terminate the contract. Ralph does not disclose that KNBR offered him a contract to continue his pay and benefits for the next six months. His response to that offer was to make disparaging comments about KNBR in the press.”
It is illegal for KNBR to fire Barbieri because of his illness, although it may be difficult to prove that was the reason. Barbieri is right to file suit if he feels he is the victim of disability discrimination, even though he may have trouble proving it in court.
“The action by KNBR and Cumulus, Inc., send the message loud and clear that if you are 66 years old and have a disability, ‘we don’t want you anymore,’” said Alioto. “The message we will send right back to them, loud and clear, is that this type of despicable illegal behavior will not be tolerated in the City and County of San Francisco.”
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys