Rebecca Aguilar, who was suspended and eventually fired by Dallas’s KDFW in 2008, has lost her wrongful termination suit against her former employer. On Monday, a 12-person jury ruled unanimously in favor of the Fox-affiliate.
The lawsuit stems from an incident in 2007 in which Aguilar, a veteran reporter who had been with the station for nearly 13 years, confronted James Walton, the 70-year-old owner of a local salvage business, in the parking lot of a sporting goods store. Walton, who had allegedly shot and killed two burglars, was walking away from the store with a new shotgun. Aguilar pressed Walton on the shootings, asking, “Are you a trigger-happy kind of person? Is that what you wanted to do, shoot to kill?”
KDFW, as well as many Dallas viewers, took issue with Aguilar’s aggressive questioning of a visibly weak 70-year-old man, considering it an ambush more than an interview. The station suspended Aguilar with pay before eventually cutting her loose in 2008 at the halfway point of her contract.
In bringing her former employer to court, Aguilar accused KDFW of racial discrimination and retaliation but the jury found that her dismissal was based on repeated misbehavior, including insults hurled at fellow reporters, as well as declining performance. Michael Shaunessy, Fox’s lead attorney told Dallas media reporter Ed Bark, “KDFW did everything it could to make her a good employee. In the end they couldn’t save her from herself.”