Judge Rules on Larry Conners Non-Compete Case
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CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) - A St. Louis County judge ruled Friday on a dispute between fired KMOV anchor Larry Conners and his former employer, deciding that Conners can be hired by local radio stations but not television stations.
The longtime anchor was suspended and then fired on May 22 from his position at KMOV following Facebook comments he made about the Internal Revenue Service. Conners wrote that shortly after he interviewed President Obama and his wife in April of 2012, the IRS “started hammering” him.
“At the time, I dismissed the ‘co-incidence’, but now, I have concerns … after revelations about the IRS targeting various groups and their members,” Conners wrote.
After his comments drew national attention on conservative blogs and websites, Conners issued a brief explanation of his post during the 6 p.m. news a few nights later, stopping short of apologizing but explaining that his troubles with the IRS actually started years prior to his 2012 interview with President Obama.
Conners shut down his original Facebook page but since the firing has used a new page to lambast KMOV and its parent company Belo Corp. for enforcing a non-compete clause. The clause, signed by Conners, states that he will not be allowed on St. Louis airwaves for a year after leaving KMOV. Such clauses are commonplace in the broadcast industry but Conners argued before the judge that his should be null and void since he was terminated.
Conners argued that he was heavily encouraged by management to join Facebook and other social media in an effort to connect with his viewers but KMOV and Belo argued that Conners crossed a line and harmed KMOV’s and his own “credibility and integrity” when he posted about his personal problems with the IRS.
“Why would any human being want to keep someone from earning a living to support his/her family?” Conners asked in a post this summer.
According to Conners, Friday’s ruling was an attempt by the judge to “split the baby.” He says his attorney is filing for the judge to amend her ruling.
KMOX was one of at least two stations talking with Conners about a possible position.