Anchor Claims Estrella TV Exec Harassed Her
9/20/2016 12:06:00 PM,
LOS ANGELES (CN) — A former evening news anchor for Estrella TV claims she was sexually harassed and ultimately fired when she complained about how the Spanish-language network mistreated her and other female employees.
The plaintiff — identified in the complaint as Jane Doe — says she was told that Liberman Broadcasting leaders thought "her appearance was too conservative" and that she should "look sexier."
"When Doe asked for clarification," network news vice president Andres Angulo "replied that she had a beautiful pair of tits and should show them more," according to the lawsuit.
The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint also says Angulo repeatedly harassed another female employee, and Doe claims Estrella owner Liberman Broadcasting and LBI Media ignored her complaints — instead firing her because she complained and refusing to pay her a performance bonus she earned.
Angulo is named as a defendant in the complaint.
LBI Media general counsel Nicholas Simmons and outside defense attorney Tracey A. Kennedy of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton in Los Angeles could not be reached late Monday.
Entertainment news publication Variety identifies Doe as former Estrella anchor Adriana Ruggiero, and information in the lawsuit exactly matches Ruggiero's career with the network.
In her lawsuit, she says Estrella promoted her from reporter to anchor of its Southern California evening newscasts in October 2013.
Soon after, her suit says, she learned that Angulo had been sexually harassing another employee for some time, including offering that woman an assignment "in exchange for quid pro quo sexual favors."
In fact, Doe's Los Angeles attorney, Lisa Maki provided Courthouse News with a copy of a lawsuit filed in June by former Estrella reporter Karla Amezola. That action accuses Angulo and Liberman Broadcasting of sex discrimination, quid pro quo sex harassment and other wrongs.
That complaint singles out Angulo's "morally bankrupt and illegal sexual harassment" of Amezola that "continued to escalate in levels of depravity" from 2012 into 2016. In addition to conditioning a raise on sex, Amezola claims that he showed her nude photos of women — including other Estrella employees — with whom he boasted he had been intimate.
Amezola claims the company ignored her complaints until her attorney got involved. Her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit now appears headed to arbitration. Her attorney, Jonathan Delshad, could not be reached late Monday.
In the current case, Doe says that in April 2015 — despite Angulo's comments about her breasts — she accepted the post as anchor of the national news broadcast at 5:30 p.m. Her contract required that she would receive a $25,000 bonus if her show ranked fourth and pulled at least 100,000 viewers among the 18-to-49 age group in the next Nielsen ratings sweeps.
She took on an additional nightly newscast and an early morning radio show that summer and fall. Soon, the company brought on Adriana Yanez to fill in temporarily as anchor of the 5:30 newscast.
Doe says she hit her ratings goal in the November 2015 ratings sweeps, but LBI refused to pay her the $25,000 bonus.
"Instead, LBI told plaintiff that the bonus was intended to apply only to the 5:30 p.m. national newscast, even though the agreement contains no such limitation," Doe says in her complaint.
When she asked about the bonus, Angulo threatened Doe by telling her "it was not a good time to ask for money because Liberman liked Yanez and had suggested that Yanez could replace plaintiff." She learned that prediction had come true in January 2016 during a conversation in which Angulo "again repeated how beautiful Yanez was on camera," according to the complaint.
This past February, Doe brought her complaints to human resources executives and, separately, general counsel Simmons.
"In response to plaintiff reporting sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment, LBI wrongfully terminated or failed to renew her employment agreement with LBI as of April 30, 2016," Doe says in her complaint.
"Defendants terminated plaintiff's employment because she was a woman who was engaged in protected activity."
Doe has not found a new job, Maki said in an email.
"She seeks just compensation for her losses," the attorney said.
Doe asks for unspecified general and punitive damages, labor code penalties, a court order barring further discriminatory practices in the future and a declaration from the court "reaffirming plaintiff's equal standing under the law and condemning defendants' discriminatory practices."