Former Meteorologist Files Age and Disability Discrimination Charge Against KBTX

By Merrill Knox 

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Bob French, a former chief meteorologist at KBTX in Bryan-College Station, has filed a charge of age and disability discrimination against the CBS affiliate and its parent company, Gray Television, with the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission.

French worked at KBTX for 23 years. In a statement released by Houston law firm Peckham PLLC, French, who is “over the age of 40,” claims he was overworked during the 2012 holidays while younger employees were granted time off. French says the strain resulted in in-patient treatment for exhaustion and stress in mid-January, causing a three-month absence from the station under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

When he returned to KBTX in April 2013, French’s attorney says the weathercaster was “reprimanded … for matters relating to his disability and FMLA leave,” according to the statement. He was fired in July and replaced “by a weathercaster under 40 years of age.”

A lawsuit is is expected to be filed on the allegations as soon as the EEOC federal investigation of KBTX and Gray Television is complete, according to his attorney. See the statement after the jump.

Bryan/College Station, TX  December 9, 2013: Robert “Bob” French, a Chief Meteorologist and Weathercaster employed by KBTX in Bryan and College Station for 23 years has filed a charge of Age and Disability Discrimination as well as Retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The charge names KBTX and its parent company, Gray Television Group, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia as the target of the allegations.  KBTX and Gray Television are now the subject of a federal and state investigation by the EEOC.

Bob French, over the age of 40, claims he was overworked during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays of 2012 while other much younger employees were allowed time off.  The strain of the long hours resulted in French’s in-patient treatment for exhaustion and stress-related matters in Houston in mid-January and caused his absence from the airwaves while recovering under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave.

Upon French’s return to work and on air in April, 2013, KBTX General Manager Mike Wright allegedly reprimanded French for matters relating to his disability and FMLA leave.  Shortly after, French was fired from KBTX in early July, 2013.  He was replaced by a weathercaster under 40 years of age.

Bob French was employed by a written contract that French also claims was breached by KBTX and Gray Television.  Suit is expected to be filed on the allegations as soon as the EEOC federal investigation is complete.

Bob French is represented by Houston Employment Lawyer Charles H. Peckham.

“For KBTX to have violated Bob’s legally-protected rights is offensive” Peckham explains.  “If KBTX can fire a beloved man such as Bob French for being over the age of 40 or for simply exercising his right to disability leave, no employee is safe from similar illegal treatment.  Bob is standing up to send a message to KBTX that folks over 40 are not second-class citizens.”

Charles Peckham of the Houston-based law firm of Peckham PLLC is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  No stranger to high profile cases, Peckham is currently working as the civil attorney for James Kirkland, professional boxer and WBC Light Middleweight Champion; medical board attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, and lawyer for nationally-syndicated radio host and comedian, George Willborn.  Charles Peckham concentrates in many areas of litigation including employment, real estate and commercial law.