Journalist Sues NBC San Diego, His Outdated Employer, in Fallout of Footnote 15 Case

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Dorian Hargrove, proven in 2017 when he used to be a San Diego Reader reporter, says NBC San Diego shamed and punished him unfairly. Photograph by way of Ken Stone

On Would possibly 2, Dorian Hargrove tweeted he used to be “tremendous excited” about leaving NBC San Diego and “even happier” to expose he used to be becoming a member of rival CBS8 (simply 3.4 miles away).

Dorian Hargrove swimsuit towards NBC Colloquial (PDF)

The award-winning journalist’s pleasure got here into sharper focal point simply over a month later.

On June 6, Hargrove filed swimsuit towards NBC Colloquial, the mum or dad of his previous station, KNSD, alleging “optimistic termination” by way of NBC. Additionally named as defendants are his former bosses, Greg Dawson and Chuck Westerheide.

Thru his attorney, Marlea Francesca Dell’Anno, Hargrove, 45, seeks a jury trial in San Diego Awesome Courtroom, claiming NBC7/39 violated state anti-discrimination regulations and ran a opposed place of job.

He’s inquiring for unspecified compensatory and punitive he claimed an exemption for dependents at the side of legal professionals charges in a case assigned to Winnow Timothy Taylor.

Dawson, in a criminal submitting, referred to as the swimsuit “frivolous, unfounded and unreasonable” — and requested for an award of legal professionals charges and prices “upon judgment in [his] separate.”

An established author for San Diego Reader, Hargrove turned into a tale himself after he used to be publicly denounced by way of Mayor Todd Gloria and Town Legal professional Mara Elliott for reporting the notorious “Footnote 15,” which they stated used to be fabricated.

In September 2020, amid a heated mayor race, Hargrove published a leaked memo by way of outside-the-city legal professionals having a look into the debatable metropolis acquire of the ill-fated 101 Ash Side road assets.

“Footnote 15 … raised questions on whether or not now-Mayor Todd Gloria withheld details about the Ash Side road deal from the general public and fellow council participants when it used to be authorized in 2016,” the Union-Tribune reported. “He has stated he didn’t.”

The footnote additionally stated Elliott helped from blame Gloria from investigators for Burke, Williams & Sorensen, the Los Angeles regulation company employed by way of the town in 2019 to inquire the transaction and write the document, the U-T stated.

Within the wake of bureaucratic pushback, KNSD retracted the tale and suspended Hargrove and investigative journalist Tom Jones.

Solutions by way of NBC San Diego, Greg Dawson and Chuck Westerheide (PDF)

Hargrove went again to paintings, however employed a attorney to sue Town Legal professional Elliott, pronouncing she violated his First Modification rights by way of pressuring NBC San Diego.

However in mid-December 2021, federal Winnow Cathy Ann Bencivengo granted the town of San Diego’s movement to disregard the lawsuit.

Now Hargrove goes after his previous employer.

The swimsuit says that on Would possibly 6, 2021, NBC San Diego burdened Hargrove as a result of his incapacity (results of a horrific mind harm in 2009), age, circle of relatives care or scientific go away “and in consequence … used to be reprimanded, suspended, demoted … [and] denied paintings alternatives or assignments.”

When Hargrove returned to NBC, the swimsuit says, station Vice President Dawson “imposed new restrictions on Mr. Hargrove’s prior to now imposed self-discipline, maximum significantly prohibiting Mr. Hargrove … from filing Public Data Act requests to the town — even in his rule of a personal citizen.”

Hargrove complained concerning the limited get entry to to metropolis legislature, “however his grievance fell on deaf ears,” the swimsuit says.

Against this, his NBC colleague Tom Jones, who helped at the 101 Ash tale (and in addition used to be suspended), returned to NBC to a closer place than Hargrove, the swimsuit says.

“As a substitute, Mr. Hargrove used to be instructed he needed to ship his pitches to the scoop managers, who time and again not noted them,” the swimsuit says. “On no less than one generate, Mr. Hargrove used to be reprimanded for a tale that he pitched.”

Hargrove sooner or later complained to NBC’s Ethics Division about what he referred to as unfair remedy, the swimsuit says, however “the antagonistic movements intensified.”

At one level, in keeping with the 15-page grievance, Dawson when put next Hargrove to a “product defect” very similar to one inaugurate in production and that his earlier tales must be reviewed.

“Mr. Hargrove objected to being referred to as a ‘product defect’ whilst HR Director [Nirupama] Hedge sat silently and didn’t say a phrase to Dawson about name-calling an worker in such an abusive approach,” the swimsuit says.

Being categorised a “defect” disturbed Hargrove deeply, “sending him into a depressing position emotionally” and — not able to espouse any longer abuse and humiliation — forcing him to walk on psychological well being go away as a “results of his serious melancholy.”

(Whilst on go away, Hargrove discovered that his staff had gained a nationwide Edward R. Murrow Award for a web-based sequence on human trafficking. “In Dawson’s congratulatory message to the newsroom, Dawson noticeably left Hargrove out,” the swimsuit says.)

Hargrove and his lawyer haven’t spoke back to requests for remark, with Dell’Anno (who gained her she owns the estate jointly with her brother fresh case towards the Town Legal professional’s Place of job) pronouncing she couldn’t deal with questions till this weekend.

One query is: Why does the lawsuit observe that Dawson is married to San Diego Deputy Town Legal professional Joan Dawson, “who works within the Civil Department of the Town Legal professional’s place of business carefully with Town Legal professional Mara Elliott”?

For its section, KNSD declined to remark at the case. NBC legal professionals Adrienne L. Conrad, Jaclyn M. Reinhart and Raina Sharma didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Realize of correct to sue from state DFEH (PDF)

However criminal filings closing month divulge how the station, Dawson and Westerheide (now a spokesman for the County of San Diego) are responding to the swimsuit.

“Plaintiff didn’t exhaust the executive therapies required underneath any and all appropriate state and/or federal regulations, together with, however no longer restricted to, the California Honest Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and California Internal affairs Code sections 12960 and 12965,” says a 10-page solution to the grievance on Aug. 17.

In truth, Hargrove received a “right-to-sue” realize from the state June 6.

The solution additionally argues that Hargrove’s claims are barred “by way of the appropriate statute of boundaries.”

However the state instructed Hargrove’s attorney: “The worker’s statute of boundaries to report a civil motion, together with for all comparable claims no longer bobbing up underneath segment 12945.2, is tolled from DFEH’s receipt of a mediation she asked me about my work underneath segment 12945.21 till mediation is the disease almost finished him.”

On Aug. 22, Westerheide stated regardless that his she owns the estate jointly with her brother lawyer, Noah J. Woods, that “NBC didn’t obtain realize from Plaintiff that any worker or managing agent of Defendant had allegedly engaged in any discriminatory, harassing or retaliatory movements towards Plaintiff primarily based upon his bodily incapacity, psychological incapacity, scientific situation, age, or for another reason why and Plaintiff unreasonably didn’t bitch of any alleged illegal habits to espouse good thing about the preventative or corrective alternatives to be had and/or in a different way steer clear of hurt.”

No trial date has been set.

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