ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Former KMOV television anchorman Larry Conners filed an age discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Thursday.
The two-page complaint – which names KMOV, it’s owner BELO Corporation, as well as the General Manager and News Director – claims Conners was paid less than former anchor Vickie Newton because he was a white male and she an African-American female. Conners alleges that he then filed a lawsuit over the pay discrepancy and was retaliated against by the company after the suit was settled through arbitration. He goes on to claim he was demoted from his 10 p.m. anchor position after returning from medical leave.
Conners had been employed by the station since 1986 but was fired a week ago after writing a controversial post on Facebook.
Hours after his firing, Conners issued his first public comments about the termination on KMOX’s Mark Reardon Show.
Conners, who hired attorney Merle Silverstein two weeks ago, told Mark, “I was handed a statement, and said, ‘read it.’” He added, “Basically a lot of folks took it that I was backing down from my posting and that maybe I’d hidden information…I will say, I should have said, I had prior issues.”
During the eleven minute interview Conners explained his tax situation, and what he meant by his now infamous Facebook post. “I said on my Facebook page that it was just interesting, because of all of the stuff about the IRS over the last week and a half, and all I did…if you read my statement, I never said I believed they did it, I just had concerns and I just had questions…simply starting a forum of talk.”
“That’s all I was doing, was raising a question. Now the station has said it’s terminating me, for calls citing I have lost journalistic integrity and credibility because of that.
“Anyone who’s followed my career knows I can be tough on both sides and no one gets any slack. It was not intended to be anything other than what I truly stated.”
KMOV TV President & GM, Mark Pimentel, issued the following statement last week:
“We regret to announce that Larry Conners is no longer a KMOV news reporter. Larry was a valued member of KMOV for a long time, and we will miss him.
For KMOV, there is no higher cause than unbiased, objective news reporting. It is what our viewers expect and it is what we work very hard to deliver. We can accept no less. Larry is certainly entitled to his opinion, but taking a personal political position on one of the Station’s Facebook pages creates an appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards. Larry’s departure has nothing to do with the particular position he took, but it does have to do with our belief that his actions made it impossible for him to report for KMOV on certain political matters going forward without at least an appearance of bias. Bringing you accurate and unbiased reporting is the reason we exist.”
Conners has worked as a newsman in St. Louis since 1976, but in late April his career hit a professional setback. Conners was absent from the 10 p.m. news for several months as he recovered from shoulder surgery but when he returned he came back to the 6 p.m. news.
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