Former Employees Sue California Radio Station for Wrongful Termination

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Los Angeles, CA Two former employees of a California-based radio station owned by a corporation headquartered in Mexico have filed wrongful termination lawsuits under California labor law, alleging “a campaign of character assassination” and other allegations.

The pair claims they were fired in retaliation for blowing the whistle on alleged fraud at the station, together with allegations the station had been employing illegal immigrants.

The defendants in the California labor lawsuit, Grupo Radio Centro LA LCC, deny the charges.

Plaintiffs are Sean O’Neill and Rosa Ambriz, the former vice president/general manager and office manager respectively. O’Neill had come to the radio station - the call letters were not disclosed - in January 2014 after having signed a four-year contract. He was terminated in August of last year, seven months into his contract. Ambriz was laid off from her position at the time O’Neill was fired.

The pair accuses Grupo of wrongful termination under the California labor code after they spoke out against alleged Nielsen ratings fraud and so-called “payola” and “plugola” - forms of payment and incentives to broadcast and/or promote products illicitly. There were also allegations the station had hired some employees and independent contractors that were not legally authorized to work in the US.

According to their California and labor law action, “[Grupo] took retaliatory and adverse actions against plaintiffs, including, but not limited to, subjecting plaintiffs to ongoing hostility in the work environment, subjecting plaintiffs to intolerable working conditions…and wrongfully terminating [the plaintiffs],” the complaint says.

Grupo, through its legal representatives, countered that O’Neill was fired due to missed sales goals, as well as allegations that he harassed employees and underperformed.

The four-count suit alleges violations of California Labor Code, breach of contract, wrongful termination and defamation, and seeks damages, interest and costs. O’Neill is attached to all four counts, whereas Ambriz is associated specifically with wrongful termination and violations under the California labor code.

A co-defendant in the case has been identified as Ricardo Sanchez, who is alleged to have written a memo dated July 8, 2014 to O’Neill that included “demeaning and defamatory remarks,” or so it is alleged. The e-mail is alleged to have accused O’Neill of creating low morale among sales staff, and accusing O’Neill’s department of showing poor sales performance. The e-mail also said that clients felt uncomfortable negotiating with O’Neill, and Sanchez accused O’Neill of “destroying” the station, or so it is alleged.

The case is Sean O Neill et al v. Grupo Radio Centro LA LLC et al, case number 2:15-cv-06116, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

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