Dan Spangler Sues Station for Discrimination

Remember Dan Spangler, former host of Louisville Live on WBKI? (We were a part of that fancy teevee program for a while – Julie Smith of Southern Belles fame is now the host)

Spangler was oddly canned from the station in June after helping to lead the station through a number of successes. Then the station’s new management/ownership severed ties with anyone remotely critical of them.

That was months ago.

I discovered this morning that Spangler is suing Louisville TV Group and Fusion Communications, his now-former bosses. And thanks to a tipster, I just got my hands on the court documents in which Spangler makes some pretty alarming allegations, so let’s dig in to the juicy, juicy…

13. Naturally, when Fusion purchased WBKI, Mr. Spangler wanted an assurance that he would be kept with the station he had been involved with for over ten years. During the negotiations of Fusion’s purchase of the station from Cascade Broadcasting, David McAnally, President of Fusion, assured the then CEO of Cascade Broadcasting, Carol LaFever, that there would be no need to include a mandatory carry-forward agreement for Mr. Spangler in the purchase agreement because Mr. McAnally and Fusion loved Mr. Spangler’s work and intended to keep him at the station into the future. In fact, Mr. McAnally indicated to Ms. LaFever that Fusion wanted Mr. Spangler to eventually become the Marketing Director of all of the Fusion-owned stations.

14. The assurances of job security made by Mr. McAnally and Fusion were related to Mr. Spangler and Mr. Spangler relied upon these assurances and remained at the station after the purchase by Fusion.

15. After Fusion took over the station, Mr. Spanger assumed the role of Station Manager, in addition to continuing hosting duties on the local morning show, Louisville Life This Morning. As in the past, Mr. Spanger excelled at this duties.

16. Shortly after Fusion took over the station it became clear that Mr. McAnally and Jeff Lyle, a managing partner of FUsion and Louisville TV, became intensely interesting in Mr. Spangler’s religion.

17. In early May 2009, Mr. Spangler was riding back from lunch with Terry Glaser, WBKI’s General Sales Manager, and Jeff Lyle. During the car ride Mr. Lyle asked Mr. Spangler and Mr. Glaser, point blank, what their religions were. Mr. Spangler, naturally, was shocked that one of his bosses would ask such an intensely personal and prying question. There was a long pause after Mr. Lyle asked the question, to which Mr. Spangler responded that he was a “non-practicing catholic.”

18. Only minutes before this question, during the same car ride, Mr. Spangler had related a anecdote to Mr. Glaser and Mr. Lyle about his first day on a job he once had in New Orleans. Mr. Spangler had explained that despite living across the street from his new place of work he was almost late to his first day of work due to slow service at a nearby restaurant. Mr. Lyle responded to the story by saying that it sounded like the water was on “CPT.” There was a pause and Mr. Lyle went on to say that “CPT” stood for “colored people time.” During his story Mr. Spangler had never mentioned the race of his server. Apparently, Mr. Lyle had assumed that the slow service Mr. Spangler experienced was due to an African-American waiter and used the offensive racial slur “colored people time” to explain his opinion of why the service was slow.

Something tells me you’re going to want to read the rest of these excerpts after the jump…

19. On the same day, during the lunch that proceeded the events described in paragraphs 17 and 18, Mr. Spangler, Mr. Glaser, and Mr. Lyle had a discussion about an individual from the CW television network that the three of them had been working with. During the conversation Mr. Lyle said, “Let me guess, he’s Jewish, right?” Again, Mr. Spangler was shocked. Mr. Spangler happened to know this individual on a personal level and responded that he did believe the individual in question was Jewish. Upon hearing this, Mr. Lyle shook his head and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but it sounded like he was [Jewish].”

20. Several weeks later, during a conference to discuss the stations programming schedule, Mr. McAnally began naming off several shows that aired through the afternoon and early evening. Many of the shows named by Mr. McAnally had a primarily African-American cast and/or and African-American lead. After naming the programs Mr. McAnally stated to the group “It looks awfully dark during this time of day.”

21. On a separate occasion, Mr. Spangler and Mr. McAnally were reviewing a personality test that Mr. Spangler, and the rest of the staff, had been required to take. Mr. McAnally explained to Mr. Spangler that the test was designed to help them better understand how the employees worked together. During the review Mr. McAnally quoted a bible verse to Mr. Spangler.

22. On June 14, 2009 only a few days after the meeting in which Mr. McAnally quoted scripture to Mr. Spangler, Mr. McAnally informed Mr. Spangler that he was being terminated. Since his termination, the pretextual reasons for Mr. Spangler’s firing have shifted from an alleged economic reason to an unsubstantiated and false claim from Mr. McAnally that Mr. Spangler leaked details of a pending Fusion deal with another network.

23. After his termination Mr. Spangler was replaced by an individual who, on information and belief is a practicing Christian and attends Southeast Christian Church in Louisville.

24. Since Mr. Spangler’s termination, Mr. McAnally has informed individuals that he has “irrefutable proof” that Mr. Spangler disclosed terms of a private deal between Fusion and another broadcast company in an effort to undermine that deal. Mr. Spangler has never disclosed the terms of any deal involving Fusion and another company. Rumors such as these will seriously injure Mr. Spangler’s reputation in the broadcasting community.

Spangler is suing for Fraud, Promissory Estoppel, Slander per se and Religious Discrimination. For those causes of action, he is seeking (from the court docs):

  • A trial by jury
  • Judgement against the Defendants for substantial actual and compensatory in amounts to be determined by a jury of his peers
  • Damages in the form of back pay, front pay and benefits
  • Damages for embarrassment and humiliation
  • Costs and attorney’s fees associated with this action
  • Punitive damages and
  • Leave to amend his complaint as proof develops

Upon request, Spangler declined comment. No one at Louisville TV or Fusion has responded to our request.

11 thoughts on “Dan Spangler Sues Station for Discrimination

  1. P.S. It’d be wrong of me not to mention that I consider Dan Spangler a pal and an all-around good guy.

    He was always surprisingly honest when I dealt with him on a professional level.

    And he’s handled himself much better than I would have in a situation like this.

  2. Fusion has done some weird things with WBKI.

    They’ve taken the smoothe on-air look that Cascade built and turned it back into the small-market rubbish of WGRB. Who green-lighted those horrendous “TV to talk about” commercials, or airing the odd CW World Report (ok, I know it’s produced by Fusion, but seriously.)

    I wish another company had won (or particpated in) the bid, especially Belo, Hearst or Raycom.

  3. It is just me, or does Mr. Spangler slightly resemble Hans Gruber from the movie Die Hard in that photo?

  4. Seen this a million times before, guys loses his job then essentially makes things up and takes other things out of context and sues his former employer. This does not even pass the smell test. I’d love to see a counter suit.

  5. Really, now?

    Then how do you explain the half dozen or so folks who aren’t too fond of Dan Spangler that are backing him up 100% behind the scenes?

    He’s not wealthy so he’s obviously not paying them off.

    Just a coincidence, I guess?

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