Sven Sundgaard Sues KARE11 For Sexual Orientation & Religious Discrimination
Former KARE11 Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard is suing the TV station and their parent company Tegna, Inc. In the lawsuit he claims it was a hostile work environment and he claims discrimination against his sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
Sundgaard was fired last May by KARE11 for what they described as violating the company's policies on things including news ethics. This followed a Facebook comment he made calling people who protest COVID-19 health restrictions as "white nationalist Nazi sympathizer gun fetishist miscreants." The comment made its rounds on social media before Sundgaard took it down that night. The next day he was fired.
In his lawsuit he is seeking back pay from the date of his firing. According to the Pioneer Press, that adds up to about $325,000 + $25,000 in punitive damages.
The lawsuit also includes that it was a hostile work environment along with the defamation and violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. He describes the following incidents:
2007 - Sundgaard appeared on the cover of LGBTQ magazine. He claims his news director Tom Lidner was angry and asked "What are people going to think?" He reported the comment to HR but there was never any action taken.
2010 - He says he converted to Judaism and claims he was asked by the news director Jane Helmke if he "still believed Jesus was the Messiah?" Sundgaard said it was an invasive comment.
2011 - Sundgaard also says he was sent a hostile e-mail from Lindner. This led to an open door meeting where he claims the director screamed at him to "Get the (expletive) out of my office.
2017 - The lawsuit says in 2017 he was denied time off for multiple situations such as visiting his sick mother on her birthday, and to appear at a speaker at a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association conference. He also claims that management need to know where he was at all times.
Sundgaard reported that there were other incidents that happened over the year that were similar in nature, discriminating against him for his sexual orientation. He claims that whenever he tried to report issues to human resources the behavior did not change.
KARE11 has denied the allegations saying that their core values as a station is inclusion and maintaining a workplace free from discrimination.
In the months that followed Sundgaard firing from KARE11, he was hired as a Meteorologist for Bring Me The News.