1. Business

Lawsuit spells out tumultuous time during HSN and QVC merger

(From left) Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, cooks as show host Alyce Caron enjoys the food during a show at HSN on Sunday, July 30, 2017, in St. Petersburg. Lampe debuted on HSN with Lampelicious, a line of sausages, burgers and pulled pork the same day. [Times (2017)]
Published Dec. 5, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — QVC executives were not in favor of how HSN stars were acting on camera in the months following the arch-rivals' merger, according to a lawsuit filed by a former employee.

Gordie Daniels, the former HSN talent manager at the company's St. Petersburg campus, says he was fired for sending an email asking its stars to adjust their acts even though he says his bosses approved the wording. The lawsuit from the Tampa resident describes turmoil between the networks as they came together under parent company Qurate Retail Group.

"QVC was very upset with how on-air talent was performing," Daniels' attorneys wrote. "Guests were stepping outside the roles QVC wanted them to play, and hosts were often unable to control their shows effectively. Guests were talking over hosts. Talent discussed topics such as pricing … and shipping which QVC did not want discussed. Some guests were also making overaggressive sales presentations."

In the 16-page lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Daniels also described a workplace culture that fostered long hours without complete overtime pay. He also said he was treated differently than his white counterparts as one of few African Americans who worked at the company during his tenure form June 2016 to May 2018.

HSN and Qurate Retail Group said in an email they do not comment on pending litigation.

The now infamous email was first obtained by Page Six, the New York Post celebrity gossip website, in late May of 2018. The Page Six story quoted a company spokesperson who said the email "was not authorized, reviewed or approved for distribution." It also published quotes from anonymous network celebrities who responded to the email "in shock" and described it as "condescending."

The email was structured as a long list of "do's and don'ts" that included guidelines such as "Don't make false claims," because the channel needed to "build credibility," and "Do let the host lead the presentation." Daniels was let go shortly after the email leaked. HSN president Mike Fitzharris wrote an email of his own to apologize, calling Daniels' note something "that should have never been sent."

But in his lawsuit, Daniels' says the HSN's vice president and senior vice president approved the content.

"(HSN) falsely branded (Daniels) as an insubordinate, unprofessional, rogue employee who launched an 'insulting,' 'condescending,' and 'disrespectful' email to on-air talent," the lawsuit says. "(HSN) lied about what actually happened surrounding the email so it and QVC could save face and use (Daniels) as the scapegoat for a few people's anger over QVC's new direction."

Daniels also says he is owed about $23,000 for overtime pay he never received when he was an hourly worker. By the time he left in May, he was a salaried employee making $63,000.

HSN and QVC's management teams were pushed together under a new "QXH" unit in October, though each channel still has its branding identity. At that time, Qurate announced 350 layoffs by the end of the year — the bulk at the St. Petersburg offices.

It's been nearly one year since Qurate finalized the $2 billion purchase of HSN.

Contact Sara DiNatale at Follow @sara_dinatale.


  1. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point Star Award Volunteers, from left: Rev. Fred Houck, Barbara Weber and Steve Johnson. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point
    News and notes on Pasco County businesses
  2. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  3. Service dog Eleanor Rigby unexpectedly gave birth to eight puppies at Tampa International Airport as her human family was waiting near gate F81 to board a flight to Philadelphia in May 2018. The airport is getting ready to add pet-relief areas at its airsides for service dogs. (EMILY NIPPS | Tampa International Airport) Tampa International Airport
    Work on the new amenities is expected to be completed by next July.
  4. Developers of a proposed apartment complex near St. Petersburg's Mirror Lake area want to tear down this bungalow and replace it with a ramp to the parking garage. Susan Taylor Martin
    The only access would be via a narrow court lined with vintage houses.
  5. Cooling canals, with Turkey Point nuclear power plant in the background. Miami Herald
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday announced that it had signed off on Florida Power and Light’s latest application for a 20-year extension.
  6. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Wages rose a solid 3.1% in November compared with a year earlier.
  7. Noah Shaffer of Confidant Asset Management says the restaurant sector in the Tampa Bay area has done well in 2019 and to expect more openings in the coming months. Chick-fil-A Brandon South opened earlier this year.
    So far, the economy appears robust enough to support further expansion, says a local industry professional.
  8. A new retail center and health club are proposed for the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon. Preliminary plans show the fitness club near the most eastern edge of the lagoon. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Ryan Companies proposes grocery, retail stores and health club at neighborhood’s entrance
  9. Jamie Harden of Creative Sign Designs and Maryann Ferenc of Mise en Place discuss priorities for the Tampa Bay Chamber for the coming year. Harden is the outgoing chairman of the chamber. Ferenc is the incoming chairwoman. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times
    Leadership of the organization, formerly the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, also says it could have handled its recent name change better.
  10. The snow park in Pasco County will be known Snowcat Ridge Alpine Snow Park and is scheduled to open in November 2020. Snowcat Ridge Alpine Snow Park
    The park in rural east Pasco anticipates opening in November 2020.