Former anchor claims victory in her discrimination lawsuit against KUSI; station says it will appeal
The attorney for San Diego TV station KUSI said the company planned to appeal a $1.5 million verdict in the lawsuit filed by former longtime anchor Sandra Maas.
Late Thursday afternoon, a Superior Court jury granted Maas the award following a month of testimony involving her former employer McKinnon Broadcasting.
Maas claimed she was fired after demanding to be paid the same amount as her male co-anchor. She sued the TV company for gender and age discrimination and for violating California's equal pay laws.
The jury decided that Mckinnon Broadcasting did violate equal pay laws but did not discriminate against her.
“I’m feeling like I moved the needle a bit and employers are now going to take equal pay seriously," Maas said.
On the KUSI Good Morning San Diego program Friday, the company's attorney, Kenneth Fitzgerald, was interviewed by a team of anchors who used to work with Maas.
Fitzgerald said: “I think a lot of broadcasters ought to be nervous if they don’t have quantifiable data in place, and elaborate systems of evaluation of talent, and they don’t paper every decision they make about compensation. They're at risk.”
Joshua Pang is one of the attorneys on the team representing Maas. He said: “There need to be systems in place and performance evaluations. So, if that there is a pay differential, then the employer can actually justify it, and not say that after the fact.”
Maas said she filed her lawsuit to get justice for herself. She and her team also considered others who might be afraid to take that significant first legal step.
“If you think you have a case, call a lawyer and speak to them about your story. Your story might be like Sandra’s story," said Pamela Vallero, another attorney who worked on the case.
Fitzgerald said he would appeal the verdict. But first he will present a motion to the judge to have it thrown out.
“We will argue irregularities in the trial and that the numbers the jury came to did not match the numbers that were presented in evidence. We will ask the judge to set aside the verdict,” Fitzgerald said.
Josh Gruenberg, the lead attorney on the Maas team, said: “We encourage KUSI to appeal this verdict to the 4th District Court of Appeals. So that the justices there can reaffirm what happened at the trial court and then set a precedent that can be cited in the future."
Maas does not count out the possibility of returning to the anchor desk with another company.
"Broadcast journalism is what I’ve been doing for three decades, and I would welcome that opportunity to work in TV again. But I have some exciting projects I’m working on right now, and, if that doesn’t happen for me, I’m going to be OK," she said.