TV giant Tegna faces discrimination accusations ahead of shareholder vote

A hedge fund that’s trying to shake up the board at TV-broadcasting giant Tegna is pointing to allegations of rampant intercourse discrimination and racial bias throughout the corporate, together with accusations detailed in a trio of explosive lawsuits, The Post has discovered.

Standard General — the agency headed by savvy financier Soo Kim whose holdings include the Bally’s casino chain — is trying to unseat three of Tegna’s 12 administrators on the firm’s shareholder assembly on Friday — and has despatched the board a report containing allegations from the lawsuits in addition to different workers.

One nameless ex-employee interviewed for the confidential report by Quest Research & Investigations — a duplicate of which was completely obtained by The Post — claimed that Tegna Chief Executive Dave Lougee “did not let her answer his phone because she had a foreign accent.”

The former C-suite govt assistant additionally described a companywide assembly at which she claimed Lougee “derisively suggested a Black employee would want to shop at Payless, the now-defunct discount shoe store,” based on the report.

That’s on prime of lawsuits from ex-employees in Indianapolis, Tampa Fla., and Washington DC detailing allegations of discrimination towards ladies, minorities and folks over 40 years outdated.

Tegna CEO Dave Lougee
Tegna CEO Dave Lougee is underneath fireplace as the corporate faces discrimination expenses.
Getty Images

The allegations comply with an embarrassing dustup for Lougee, who in March apologized to former Federal Communications Commission staffer Adonis Hoffman over a 2014 incident during which Lougee mistook the African-American for a resort valet and requested him to get his automobile following a media trade occasion.

“Dave immediately acknowledged the incident and has stated that he made a mistake for which he had apologized immediately at the time of the incident,” Tegna mentioned in a press release.

Kim had nominated Hoffman to Tegna’s board however Hoffman in March withdrew his nomination, saying he couldn’t recover from the incident, based on Standard General.

Adonis Hoffman
Adonis Hoffman

Tegna — spun off from newspaper giant Gannett in 2015 as a separate, publicly traded firm — operates 64 TV and a couple of radio stations throughout 54 US markets. In addition to the discrimination beef, Kim’s Standard General gripes Tegna’s revenue margins aren’t nearly as good as these of rivals Nexstar Media and Gray Television. Proxy advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services has beneficial voting for Tegna’s nominees, saying it doesn’t see “a convincing case for change”.

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are vitally important to Tegna,” the corporate mentioned in a Thursday assertion. “Sadly, Standard General continues to exploit these crucial issues as a tactic. Not once before launching this proxy fight did Standard General seek constructive engagement with us about our approach to DE&I or offer us any ideas on the topic.”

Tegna office sign
Tegna was begun as a by-product of Gannett and owns a quantity of TV and radio stations.
Alamy Stock Photo

Tegna mentioned it appointed a chief variety officer final September, and that it has named a working group of 17 workers centered on growing racial variety via coaching and new insurance policies. Tegna mentioned individuals of coloration at present account for 25 % of workers and 33 % of its govt management workforce. It goals to spice up minorities in administration roles by 50 % by the tip of 2025.

“This is not a board that has been caught flatfooted or is reactive regarding issues of diversity and inclusion,” ISS mentioned in a current report.

Nevertheless, at Tegna’s WTHR-TV affiliate in Indianapolis, ex-anchor Andrea Morehead, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, sued the corporate after she was fired via an e mail on Jan. 11 after 21 years on the station. She claims that when she was briefly on sick go away throughout a therapy session for breast most cancers, “she learned that male colleagues were taking $20 bets on when she might return,” based on the report.

Andrea Morehead
Emmy Award-winning TV anchor Andrea Morehead sued Tegna, charging discrimination.

“I experienced lots of harassment from management as it related to my time off,” she mentioned, based on the report. “They never called me the N-word, but they treated me like that.”

Gregory Goggans, an Emmy Award-winning photographer at WTHR who was fired in 2019 after 25 years on the Indianapolis station, mentioned his managers “would always trust me when big news happened,” however was harassed by managers after he raised considerations about racial bias in his annual evaluation.

“They talk about diversity, but they never, ever implemented diversity,” Goggins mentioned of Tegna, based on the report.

Danielle Flanagan, who had been a technical engineer at Tegna’s Washington D.C. TV station WUSA, filed a December 2019 swimsuit towards Tegna alleging rampant gender and age discrimination that is also nonetheless being heard.

“If anyone made a complaint, management would threaten to replace them,” Flanagan mentioned, based on the report. “One manager told her he had a stack of applications ‘yay high’ from college kids who could do her job for less money. She recalled them saying: ‘Yeah, we need to get rid of you all. We have a bunch of college kids coming up who are going to do it much cheaper.’”

Reginald Roundtree
Reginald Roundtree alleged Tegna engaged in discrimination based mostly on age.

Reginald Roundtree, a 67-year-old former Tampa information anchor at Tegna’s Tampa Bay, Fla., station who can also be suing, claims paperwork had been discovered on a station supervisor’s desk which included a “hit list” of workers who had been over the age of 40 and seem to have been focused for termination.

Tegna fired Roundtree in February 2019, allegedly every week after Roundtree filed a criticism with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a couple of deep pay reduce. Tegna mentioned in courtroom filings there was no “hit list” and denied focusing on workers over 40 for termination.

A July 8 mediation convention is scheduled within the case, based on courtroom information.

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