News anchor who had on-air stroke settles discrimination lawsuit with WGME

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 26, 2013, at 10:51 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Doug Rafferty, ex-anchor with WGME television, has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed earlier this year against his former employer, according to court documents.

Rafferty, 61, of Yarmouth claimed he was relieved of his duties as anchor after suffering an on-air stroke Jan. 19, 2006. His speech was slurred for a time, but he had recovered when he was replaced, according to court documents.

Details of the settlement are not available on the court’s electronic case filing system. The settlement notice was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The former anchor late Monday declined an email request to comment on the settlement.

“Doug has many positive memories from his time at WGME,” Rafferty’s attorney David Webbert of Augusta said Tuesday afternoon. “He remains grateful that WGME supported his admission to the Maine Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Doug is glad to have this matter resolved.”

Matthew J. LaMourie, the Portland attorney representing the station, declined to comment.

Rafferty has been the head of the Division of Public Information and Education for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife since March 2012. Prior to that, he worked for Channel 13 in Portland for 20 years, according to court documents.

The lawsuit originally was filed in February in Cumberland County Superior Court and was moved to federal court in May. Rafferty alleged that WGME and its parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., had discriminated against him on the basis and age and disability.

Rafferty was 55 when he was replaced in 2007 as anchor by a broadcaster in his early 40s, according to court documents. Supervisors told Rafferty the change was “to give him a lighter workload,” but he worked the same number of hours.

The company denied Rafferty’s discrimination allegations but admitted that his pay had been cut, according to court documents.

Rafferty continued to do a limited amount of special on-air broadcasts but no longer did news broadcasts after his removal as anchor, the complaint said. He became head of the station’s Information Technology Department.

In February 2011, Rafferty’s salary was cut from $93,000 to $45,000 in three stages but his duties and hours did not change, the complaint said. The following December, Rafferty filed discrimination claims with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In April 2012, the MHRC dismissed his complaint but said he had satisfied one or more of the prerequisites to be awarded damages and attorney’s fees, the complaint said. The EEOC complaint was dismissed in January 2013.

Rafferty had sought back pay for wages and benefits, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as court costs and attorney’s fees. The case was scheduled to go to trial in March.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/11/26/news/police-beat/news-anchor-who-had-on-air-stroke-settles-discrimination-lawsuit-with-wgme/ printed on July 31, 2014