Former Morning Host Sues WZMX For Discrimination
January 23, 2008 at 5:40 AM (PT)
Former CBS Top 40/Rhythmic WZMX/HARTFORD morning co-host WENDELL "JD" HOUSTON will move forward with a discrimination lawsuit against his former station, reports NEWSDAY. He says the station hired him in 2000 under pressure to diversify, but denied him promotional appearances and favored his white co-host when the pair clashed. "The defendants wanted an Uncle Tom, a black person who would remain behind the radio microphone and be heard but not seen," HOUSTON's attorneys wrote in a federal racial discrimination lawsuit heading to trial in HARTFORD.
CBS RADIO says HOUSTON has no direct evidence of discrimination and the CONNECTICUT COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES dismissed a complaint he filed in 2002.
HOUSTON was let go in 2003 after he was accused of cursing at his co-host, sexually harassing another colleague and constantly fighting with his supervisors and others at the station, the station says. They say he sent a note to the woman who accused him of sexual harassment titled "vengeance upon adversaries" that quoted the Bible.
"He just couldn't get along with other people in the station and that's why his contract wasn't renewed," said MARK BATTEN, an attorney for CBS.
HOUSTON, who was 49 when he was hired, also alleges age discrimination, saying younger employees were given assignments for personal appearances to substitute for him. HOUSTON says the company retaliated by not renewing his contract in 2003 a month after he filed his lawsuit.
CBS says HOUSTON's $120,000 salary made him the highest paid on-air personality at the station.