Former WTSP Meteorologist Sues, Says Managers Spread False Rumors

By Kevin Eck 

Former WTSP meteorologist Jim Van Fleet is suing the Tampa CBS affiliate and two managers, who he says defamed him.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Van Fleet alleges the managers spread false rumors about him and “set him up for disciplinary action” so they could replace him with another meteorologist.

Van Fleet left the station in September after his contract wasn’t renewed. The lawsuit says he was forced to resign.

According to the lawsuit, Wiser and news manager Robert Clinkingbeard in March invited news anchor Dion Lim into Clinkingbeard’s office and pressed her: Is Van Fleet on drugs?

“Just say the word; if you just say the word ‘drugs,’ then we can do something about it; and you’ll be a leader, and a good friend,” Lim was told, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the managers never took up the issue with Van Fleet or had any evidence to suspect Van Fleet of drug use. And yet, according to the lawsuit, the managers circulated rumors about the meteorologist.

The next month, the lawsuit alleges Wiser and Clinkingbeard “set up” Van Fleet for a two-week suspension for insubordination. Van Fleet said he was working at the station one day when he asked if he should work from his usual spot. The suit said he was later told to leave the weather center because he could be seen during a broadcast.

According to a memo included in the lawsuit, Clinkingbeard wrote that Van Fleet responded: “I’m just doing my f—— job.”

It says that, for those reasons, he was suspended. After serving the suspension, Van Fleet was notified that his contract, which ran through this month, would not be renewed.

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