The strange case of Susan Sachs

Judy Miller aside, the New York Times has another settlement case on the table: the case of Susan Sachs, former Baghdad (and then Istanbul) bureau chief fired in April for allegedly sending emails to the wives of Baghdad correspondents Dexter Filkins and John Burns revealing their infidelities. The New York Observer‘s Tom Scocca broke that back in April; the Observer‘s Sheelah Kolhatkar has been following the case since then as Sachs and the Newspaper Guild negotiate with the NYT.

Kolhatkar reports that Sachs and the guild were scheduled to challenge her termination in arbitration proceedings starting today, but the two sides are holding off in an attempt to settle. Per Kolhatkar:

Denouncing co-workers for philandering may be an uncollegial move, but it’s not necessarily a firable offense. In August, the Guild described Sachs’ case as “strictly one of credibility. The Times has accused her of doing something she insists she didn’t do.”

The Guild also said that the Times did not pay Sachs any severance, and that company officials said “she was being dishonest with them when they questioned her about the incident in question, an accusation she denies.”

Under the Times’ contract with the Guild, a source familiar with the terms explained, any type of dishonesty–lying, stealing, etc.–can be cause for termination.

But when she was dismissed, Sachs publicly disputed the charges and said she had taken a polygraph test and passed. Last month, Sachs traveled to New York from Paris, where she now lives, and took a second polygraph test, which she also passed, according to a source familiar with her case.

Sachs maintains that the charges are “totally false” and, sadly, tells Kolhatkar that she’d actually been very happy at the Times; the Istanbul post was her “dream job.”

So what happened? Did someone try to sabotage her by sending emails on her behalf? (Sachs doesn’t think so). Did Sachs go through any sort of appeal process? Slate asked what you have to do to get fired from the times; I’m wondering what you have to do to get your name cleared.

Note: Like Kolhatkar, I have no idea who’s telling the truth. I’m just wondering what appeal mechanisms were in place for Sachs if she was, in fact, hosed.

Times in Settlement Talks Over Sachs [MediaMob]