A judge in the legal action that former
Miami anchorman Charles Perez says cost him his job has granted the
newsman a two-year restraining order against his former partner, the
Openly gay Perez anchored ABC affiliate
WPLG's channel 10 newscast until he accused his employer of
discrimination in a complaint filed with Miami-Dade's Equal
Opportunity Board on July 31.
But Perez's story of being fired
because he is gay starts with Dennis Ricardo Pena, the ex-partner now
ordered to stay at least 500 feet from Perez.
Perez, 46, testified that he was afraid
of Pena, a 42-year-old unemployed paralegal, claiming his ex had
threatened him physical harm, sexually assaulted him, and promised to
ruin his professional career.
It was those juicy bits of headline
fodder that Perez says prompted his termination after Miami Herald
columnist Joan Fleischman reported the domestic violence complaint.
“[Executives] don't want to do
anything that would make an advertiser see you as less family
friendly,” Perez told gay weekly Edge
Boston. “Though they will never say 'We need to get rid of
the gay guy,' they will say 'We need to go a different direction
Station executives demoted Perez to
weekend anchor/street reporter soon after his troubles surfaced.
Perez fired back with his discriminatory complaint; days later he was
“WPLG is disappointed that the
actions of Charles Perez left us no real choice other than to
terminate his employment contract,” WPLG Vice President and General
Manager Dave Boylan said in a statement. “WPLG emphatically denies
Perez's claim of discrimination. The document he is circulating is
filled with misstatements and untruths.”
The demotion, station executives say,
was a cost-cutting effort, a claim Perez says is nonsense because the
station is contractually obligated to pay him a full salary for the
remainder of his contract.
“The reasons they've given me were
financial, but I've tried to calculate it and there's no way it makes
sense. They are giving the lines their attorneys have written for
them,” Perez said. “We are the number one newscast in the market,
regardless of time of week, so why mess with what works? It didn't
make sense, financially or rating-wise.”
Perez and Pena began dating in New
York, while the anchor was working at WABC, in February of 2006. The
pair moved to Miami in 2006 but had separated by August 2008. Judge
Rosa Figarola awarded a jointly-owned Miami Beach condo the men had
fought over to Perez. The property, which Perez said he would give
“back to the bank,” has a negative equity of $141,000.
Pena said he would appeal the ruling.