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Larry Conners Slams KMOV Settlement Offer, Files Injunction Alleging Contract Violation

larry-conners-irs.jpg
Larry Conners.
Update below: Fired KMOV-TV (Channel 4) anchor Larry Conners says that his former bosses are blocking him from earning a living to support his family with a "baffling" settlement offer that he cannot accept.

Conners -- who lost his job last month after writing a controversial Facebook post -- spilled details on his new Facebook page last night about his ongoing dispute with KMOV, saying that the station has refused a cash settlement and wants to ban him from working in St. Louis broadcasting for a full year.

"This keeps me from providing for my family in my chosen line of work for one year," he writes.

And in response, his attorneys have filed a formal petition arguing that Conners was terminated without cause, in violation of his contract.

See also:
- Larry Conners Says KMOV Paid Him Less Than Vickie Newton Due to Race, Gender
- Larry Conners Talks KMOV-TV Firing, Defends IRS Facebook Post
- KMOV-TV's Larry Conners Says IRS May Have Been Targeting Him For Years

This latest development is, at the least, a sign that the public controversy around the veteran anchor's firing may drag on for a while.

The dispute erupted last month when Conners speculated on his KMOV-TV Facebook page whether the IRS had targeted him in response to an interview he did with President Obama. That day, he backed off those comments with a short on-air comment (that Conners later claimed he was forced to read and unable to edit), and a week later, the station announced his termination.

KMOV said he violated the news organization's journalistic standards of unbiased reporting.

Conners -- who has since offered more details on his ongoing issues with the IRS for several years -- made a surprise announcement two weeks ago with a formal complaint filed against KMOV referencing a past dispute. He claimed that the station fired him in retaliation for a past complaint of his -- that he was facing wage discrimination because of his gender and race.

(KMOV says an independent arbiter at the time found that Conners' complaints -- that he was getting paid less than his black, female co-anchor due to his gender and race -- were unmerited.)

And now it appears that efforts to reach a settlement have been unsuccessful.

Before criticizing KMOV in his latest comments, Conners writes on Facebook, "In late May, KMOV said it wanted to 'settle' and resolve things. In the spirit of helping move things forward so all of us could put this event behind us ... I have since made sure that I made no disparaging remarks against KMOV or management."

But with an unacceptable settlement offer -- no cash and a yearlong ban from working for the competition -- he says he has no choice:

Management says it doesn't want me working for KMOV, but the station doesn't want me working for the competition - on the air in any format, whether it's radio, TV or through endorsements of a company.

Late Friday, my attorney filed an injunction, trying to keep KMOV and [parent company] Belo Corporation from preventing me ... from earning a living.

Reached for comment this morning, Mark Pimentel, KMOV's president and general manager, tells Daily RFT he has not yet seen Conners' Facebook post and could not yet offer any additional statements beyond his past comments on the matter.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for larry-conners-fb.jpg
via Facebook
Larry Conners.

He has in multiple previous interviews with us, argued that Conners' termination was solely based on the inappropriate Facebook post and that prior to that controversy, KMOV had signed a multiyear contract with the anchor. ("Clearly, Larry was a part of our longer-term plan," he told us.) *See update below with additional comments from Pimentel.

Meanwhile, Conners' petition for declaratory judgment and injunction -- filed by Conners' attorneys on Friday and on view below -- claims that he was terminated without cause and that KMOV violated the terms of the contract.

Conners, the petition says, "fully performed all of his duties and met all of his responsibilities under said contract."

The petition alleges that -- despite the public statements about the reason for termination -- KMOV's actual intent was to "prevent [Conners] from obtaining employment in his profession within the St. Louis market area."

Without a declaratory judgment and injunction from the court, the petition says, "He will be unable to obtain employment in his profession for at least one year, and his removal from the broadcast scene for a period of one year will injure his reputation and greatly diminish his value as a broadcaster after a one-year hiatus."

Reached for comment this morning, Conners' attorney Merle Silverstein declined to comment further to Daily RFT saying, "The petition speaks for itself."

Continue for more on Larry Conners' full statement and petition and an update with KMOV's response.


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33 comments
ddonogal
ddonogal

KMOV has fallen the way that most other Big-3 so called "News Reporting" networks have fallen, and have since lost my respect and my viewing of their news broadcasting.  This was a travesty against a professional journalist who exemplified what TRUE journalism is.  SHAME on KMOV!

Nathan Berkley
Nathan Berkley

If he keeps at it he may secure a spot on Fox News. I'd like to think that is is plan, but I am pretty sure he is just a crazy douchebag. Either way, he will fit right in on FNC.

Mary Evelyn Decker
Mary Evelyn Decker

sad deal.. but seems to me there is more to it then what we r really hearing

Mary Poletti
Mary Poletti

Yes, because nothing says "I am dedicated to unbiased journalism" like hanging around with Dana Loesch & Glenn Beck.

Timothy Schmitz
Timothy Schmitz

Dude, retire. Enjoy it. St. Louis Post Dispatch is always looking for shitty journalism. Call Bill McLellend he'd be your source.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Seems to me, when you fire someone, they do not need to listen to you anymore. Larry, go get any job you want, and dare the station to stop you from your freedom of press and speech. Dare them to take a stand against American values.

Christopher Schmidt
Christopher Schmidt

Hope his former bosses don't read his facebook page, better upgrade your privacy settings Mr. Conners. Or better yet, when upset don't go posting to twitter and facebook, just stay away from all computers and phones.

Angela Poeling
Angela Poeling

Team KMOV--keep your personal drama to yourself. Do your job.

Drew Patterson
Drew Patterson

Hasn't this dumbass learned to stay off Facebook?

Angie Maniaci
Angie Maniaci

If he's so bad at his job, why would they care if he worked for another local station?

Floyd Brookman
Floyd Brookman

Many businesses ask you to sign a non-competitor clause that blocks you from working with a rival for 1 or 2 years within their district. I've tried to straddle the fence on his story, and listened to his interview with Paul Harris on KTRS a couple of days following his discharge, as well as reading all the articles here and elsewhere. Once Julius Hunter spoke, Conners' credibility was gone. It all reeks of sour grapes at this point, and this new development only reinforces what doubts I had from the onset.

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

Sounds like he's gone over the nut right cliff

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

Sounds like uncle larry is a pretty good bridge burner.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

What is he complaining about?  Thats a standard part of any media contract.  Its put into those contracts so there is no competition.  If he does not like it, he has to move to another market.

Cry me a river, but thats part of the contract.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Jeff Willett , wrong. He needs to demonstrate he retains his personal rights to free speech and freedom of the press.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Floyd Brookman , that non-competitive agreement goes out the window once KMOV fired him. Had Connors resigned or just quit, then yes, the non-competitive clause applies. But when KMOV unilaterally dissolves their relationship? No, Connors is free to exercise his rights. The contract no longer applies - unless KMOV agrees to pay him his wages for the remainder of the contract.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@smdrpepper , the contract also says that KMOV will pay him wages. KMOV stopped paying when they fired him. Now, that KMOV unilaterally decided to end the relationship, the contract no longer applies. Connors is free to exercise all rights. The contract is dissolved.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@JamesMadison @smdrpepper He signed a non compete clause that he is legally stuck with.  If he wants to continue to work in the St Louis market, he has to wait for a year.  The contract is not null and void because Conners did something stupid and got himself fired and is still legally binding.  Sorry, but you are wrong on all counts.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@smdrpepper, until you produce the actual wording of Conners contract, we are guessing. Common law would be when one party ceases to honor a contract, the other party is no longer bounded by the contract. KMOV stopped paying Conners, per the contract, and Conners is no longer obligated to honor the non-competitive clause of that contract.

If you sign a contract with me to build a deck on your house, and I stop building it, are you obligated to keep paying me? You signed a contract stating you would pay me. Is your position one party can unilaterally dissolve themselves from the contract while holding the other party to the contract?

KMOV stopped paying for the privilege to hold Conners to that non-competitive clause. KMOV needs to fulfill their end of the contract in order to expect Conners to honor his end.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@JamesMadison @smdrpepper It does not matter if he was fired or not, that clause is still in effect, especially since he was fired for being an idiot.  Thats why its in every single contract.  JC is not a special case and neither is Conners.  He is not a free agent and cannot work in the St Louis market for up to a year.  

I think St Louis just got lucky with getting rid of this arrogant bastard.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@smdrpepper, of course non-competitive clauses are common. Duh! I never said different. And I'm certain Larry signed a contract with one in it. NOW, read what I posted. Once KMOV fired him, they dissolved the contract. All clauses no longer apply. KMOV no longer pays him, and he no longer is forced to stay out of local media for one year. you cannot end one part of the contract, but keep the other parts. KMOV ended their payments (salary) to Conners. They fired him. Once that happened, KMOV ended the contract in its entirety. No more non-competitive clause binding Larry's employment opportunities. What KMOV is doing is putting the fear into other stations that they will get sued if they try to hire him.

JC Corchoran is a special case. Routinely getting fired for misbehaving. Any station thinking of hiring him would force many clauses no one else would sign, except JC. That situation would not apply to someone like Larry Conners.

Think about it for a half second. If I did not really want you on my station, but I especially did not want you on my competitors stations, I could offer you a contract for $1million with a non-competitive clause. Once you signed, I never pay you, but I insist you cannot work for any local competitor. Do you think any talent lawyer would allow their client to sign such an agreement? Especially one fresh out of arbitration?

So while a non-competitive clause is common, it is not enforceable once the station fires the talent; thus, making him a free agent.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@JamesMadison @smdrpepper Its standard boilerplate in ANY newscaster contract, even those on the radio.  That explains why JC Corchoran disappears for long periods of time between gigs.

Now those signing these contracts still have clauses in their favor, but generally the no compete is extremely common.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@smdrpepper, it really would depend on the contract wording, but I highly doubt anyone would sign a contract as you suggest. That would give KMOV all the power. Contract Law 101 requires an equality between the parties.

According to your vision, KMOV could have offered millions of dollars but fired Connors seconds after he signed the contract, thus preventing him from finding new employment in the local market without paying him, and only renewing his contract in the most limited sense. Ask yourself would you sign that contract?

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