Radio Employee Wins Suit Over Aired Personal Jokes
A jury ordered a radio station and two disc jockeys to pay $694,200 in damages to a news director they referred to with risque jokes on a “shock radio” program.
Liz Randolph, 32, claimed the jokes, which implied she was promiscuous and mentally unstable, caused her to suffer panic attacks and led her to seek psychiatric treatment.
Disc jockeys Jim Quinn and Donald (Banana Don) Jefferson, and EZ Communication, owner of WBZZ-FM, were found liable for defamation and invasion of privacy and ordered to pay about $260,000 in damages.
Randolph won an additional $390,000 from Quinn and Jefferson for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In addition, the jury awarded Randolph $30,704 for medical bills and $13,500 for lost wages.
Randolph said she was glad she had endured a two-week trial that made public much of her personal life, including details of her psychiatric history.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” she said.
One of her attorneys, Samuel P. Kamin, said Wednesday’s verdict by the Allegheny County Common Pleas jury sends a message to broadcasters about airing risque humor, especially jokes that target co-workers.
“I think that’s something the industry’s going to have to think twice about now,” he said. “The signal this sends is the workplace is no place for abuse.”
“I think there’s no question this will have an impact on the kind of conduct you’ll hear on morning shows,” said Jeff Pollack, a Los Angeles-based media adviser. “It’s clear this case will make a lot of people think twice what they say to fellow workers on the air.”