Television Personality Avoids Binding Arbitration in Discrimination Suit
Kurt Knutsson, a television personality known as the “CyberGuy” for Los Angeles TV station KTLA, has successfully avoided being forced into binding arbitration over his charges of age discrimination against KTLA, a television affiliate of the Tribune Broadcasting Company. The station had argued that because their agreement with the union included mandatory dispute resolution procedures that eventually led to binding arbitration, Knutsson was compelled to follow the same procedures.
However, a California appeals court ruled that since individual members of the union do not have the power to compel the station into arbitration, neither did the station have the power to compel individuals – only the union as a whole. As a result, Knutsson’s suit may proceed to the court system.
Knutsson charges that KTLA reneged on a contract he signed with them to syndicate his “CyberGuy” technology segments for five years at a reduced rate if the station provided facilities and staff. Then the station replaced him with a new reporter, and used his personal brand to promote and market the new reporter.
As part of the signed agreement, Knutsson claims KTLA agreed they did not own the CyberGuy brand and thus have no right to use it in promoting any other personage or segments.
The court specifically found that the agreement between the union and the station governs relations between the union and the station – not individual employees seeking redress. Knutsson plans to pursue his suit, claiming that his CyberGuy segments were being broadcast several times a week on several stations with millions of viewers, representing a sizable loss for him.