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Ralph Barbieri hires a lawyer, plans to sue KNBR*

Sunday, April 15, 2012

imageLooks like the veteran radio sports talker’s departure from KNBR may get noisy. He’s acquired civil rights attorney Angela Alioto to represent him and today she fired the first volley in what sounds like a coming wrongful termination case against the station. (Alioto, you may recall, won a wrongful termination judgment against Star Wars director George Lucas in 2010 on behalf of her daughter-in-law, Julie Gilman Veronese.) Alioto tells the Mercury News’ Daniel Brown that Barbieri, who is 66 and has Parkinson’s disease, was let go because he is ill.

Add: Neither the station nor parent Cumulus Media have said publicly why Barbieri was let go after 28 years. But Alioto suggests the ostensible reason was because Barbieri allegedly showed up late for work: “The whole tardiness issue is just a cover-up to get rid of someone who is sick.”

[Update] KNBR issued a press release this afternoon in response to Alioto's remarks:

It is disappointing that Ralph’s lawyers have issued a press release filled with inaccurate statements and baseless accusations.
The simple fact is that Ralph refused to honor some of the most basic terms of his contract.  As a result, KNBR exercised its right to terminate the contract.
Ralph does not disclose that KNBR offered him a contract to continue his pay and benefits for the next six months.  His response to that offer was to make disparaging statements about KNBR in the press.
It is completely implausible that the termination of Ralph’s contract had anything to do with his age or the fact he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. KNBR renewed his contract this past fall with full knowledge of those circumstances. At that time, Ralph publicly recognized that the Company ‘didn’t view the Parkinson’s as a red flag.’  That statement is true. It never has.

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