An ex-television news anchor who was fired while out on disability leave was awarded $7.3 million by a jury.
Sara Lee Kessler alleged that WWOR-TV demoted her and forced her to take disability leave before firing her. She alleged discrimination based on sex, religion, and age. The jury rejected those claims but agreed that the station had unjustly fired her while on disability leave.
The 47-year-old is an Orthodox Jew who observed the Jewish Sabbath and claims that she was often forced to work past sundown, in conflict with her beliefs. She is an accomplished journalist who won an Emmy for her work covering the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Kessler’s award includes more than $2.8 million in lost wages. Kessler made $300,000 as an anchor at WWOR-TV, and now makes only 1/6 that about as a reporter at New Jersey Network.
Kessler remarked on her case, “I hope that it sends a wake-up call to television stations around the country who believe that they may be omnipotent, who believe that they’re above the law.”