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Tammy Bruce's Lawsuit Against KFI Includes Sex Discrimination

March 26, 1999|JUDITH MICHAELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former KFI-AM (640) overnight host Tammy Bruce, who last year came under fire for critical remarks she made on the air about Bill and Camille Cosby, has filed suit against the station and key personnel on charges that include sex discrimination, discrimination due to sexual orientation, wrongful termination, sexual harassment and slander.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, are Cox Radio-owned KFI, Program Director David G. Hall, General Manager Howard Neal and nighttime host Phil Hendrie.

Neal, speaking for the station, said Thursday: "We can't comment." He said he had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit.

In the 27-page suit, filed March 16, Bruce did not ask for a specific dollar amount but says at several points that the damages she sustained are "greatly in excess of $50,000." Her lawyer, Patricia Bellasalma, said Bruce seeks compensation for "back pay, front pay, pain, suffering and emotional distress."

Bruce, 36, who is openly gay and a former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women, was suspended by KFI last July 10, following her July 8-9 broadcast that criticized the Cosbys and prompted them to complain to management. Hall and Neal went on the air Aug. 19 and 20 to apologize for Bruce's remarks. Later, the station said that her contract was not being renewed.

In her suit, Bruce charges that she was "disparately treated" in the Cosby case, contending that KFI had neither suspended nor apologized for male hosts who had been the subject of complaints or civil actions. She also charges that, independent of and long before the Cosby controversy, she had complained to Hall about derogatory remarks and harassment of her by various employees regarding her sexual orientation. The behavior did not cease and constituted a hostile work environment, the suit says--extending even to KFI's Web site, where it says derogatory remarks were made about her even after she was no longer on the air.

Among Bruce's charges is that Hendrie both made and attempted unwanted physical contact with her at his wedding in July 1997, that thereafter he called her a derogatory name when passing in the hallway, and that he used other crude language about her sexual orientation on his program.

Reached at her home, Bruce said filing the suit was "an important thing to do, not only for the unfairness that occurred directly in that environment but because this is what I have stood for in all my activism, to encourage women to stand up for themselves."

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