Video editor accuses WABC-TV reporters of racial abuse

NEW YORK Fri May 6, 2011 5:49pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A video editor is suing three on-air reporters for ABC Television's affiliate in New York, alleging he suffered "abusive, offensive and demeaning" language because he is Hispanic.

Gerardo Lago made the complaint against Lauren Glassberg, Kemberly Richardson and Stacey Sager, three on-air reporters for WABC-TV's Eyewitness News, in a lawsuit filed Thursday in New York Supreme Court.

Lago also sued the station, American Broadcasting Co Inc, and ABC's owner, Disney Worldwide Services, seeking at least $18 million in damages.

Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, who said he was speaking on behalf of the defendants, declined to comment. An official at WABC-TV said the station had no comment.

Lago was the cameraman for Glassberg's "Neighborhood Eats" segment. On many occasions she told people being taped to excuse Lago "as he does not speak English," the lawsuit said.

Rosemarie Arnold, Lago's lawyer, said her client has a slight accent, but speaks "perfect English."

On July 15, 2009, Sager yelled at Lago about his editing of a story about a pipe bomb that detonated in front of a Starbucks restaurant in New York City and falsely blamed him for errors in the segment, the lawsuit said.

On June 21, 2010, Richardson yelled profanities at Lago while he was her cameraman, according to the complaint.

Lago has worked as a video editor, cameraman, or photographer for the station since December 19, 1989, the complaint said.

Executives at the station and the newscast failed to make any effort to stop the abuse, the lawsuit said. Officials branded him a troublemaker and placed him on medical leave, without evaluation, on October 28, the lawsuit said. Putting him on medical leave was "improper, because there is nothing wrong with him," Arnold said.

When he asked to return to work, his bosses ordered him to undergo an independent medical examination with a psychologist, Arnold said. Her client refused and they suspended him without pay on February 3.

(Reporting by Jennifer Golson; Editing by Greg McCune)

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