Paula Lopez, Former News Anchor, Files Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Paula Lopez, a former news anchor for KEYT/KCOY, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against NPG of California, owner of KEYT and KFFX stations. Lopez worked as a news anchor for the stations for close to 30 years before he was terminated in September 2015. At that time, Lopez was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and assaulting an officer.

Lopez pleaded no contest to DUI, refusing a chemical test, delaying a peace officer, and battery on a peace officer in a plea agreement. As a result she was sentenced to 120 days in jail and probation. She served 50 days in the electronic monitoring program.

Lopez filed the California lawsuit on September 2nd claiming that Lopez’s time with the station/s resulted in a loyal following of viewers through her distinguished and experienced work as one of the most trusted and vibrant television journalists on the Central Coast. Allegations were made the in spite of her history with the company, Lopez was discriminated against, demeaned and degraded on the basis of her sex, disability and Hispanic race/ancestry.

Allegations Included in the Lawsuit:

·       Lopez was denied equal pay based on gender.

·       Lopez was denied reasonable accommodation for her disability.

·       Lopez was denied reasonable accommodation for legal mandated interactive processes in relation to her disability.

Lopez insists that she wasn’t offered a fair agreement when NPG purchased the stations, stating that she was only offered a “minimal pay increase” even though she was already paid a significantly lower salary than CJ Ward, her male, non-Hispanic counterpart on the news show. General manager for the stations, Mark Danielson, responded that NPG does not comment on current or former employees or potential litigation.

Lopez claims that she took leave rom work after she “went missing for a day” in 2013. Reasons for this were related to a combination of symptoms and conditions in connection to anxiety, depression, and alcoholism – all of which the plaintiff claims she was in the process of having treated. Five months later, Lopez was arrested for public intoxication and was suspended from work without pay. Lopez mentions signing a “last chance agreement” in the lawsuit in an attempt to avoid being fired from her job. In the agreement, provisions required random drug and alcohol testing. Lopez claims that the station’s access to the results of these tests violated her privacy. Lopez also alleges that she was later moved to a station with “less stature,” given a more strenuous workload, and replaced on primetime by “younger” and “non-Hispanic” women. Lopez was terminated after her Sept. 6, 2015 DUI arrest.

If you have questions about wrongful termination or if you think that you may have been fired as a result of discriminatory practices in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.