Former WTSP-Ch. 10 anchor Reginald Roundtree sued his former employer, accusing the station and its parent company of firing him in retaliation for raising an age discrimination complaint.
The suit, filed Friday, largely reiterates accusations in two complaints Roundtree filed this year with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission investigated both complaints and closed them as inconclusive, according to documents attached to the lawsuit.
“The EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes" law violations, an investigator wrote in July, noting that the finding neither clears the station nor charges it with wrongdoing.
One complaint, filed before WTSP fired Roundtree in February, alleged the station was trying to push him out due to his age. The other, filed after, said the station fired him based on age discrimination and retaliation for filing the first complaint. The state reason for his dismissal was concerns over Roundtree’s professional ethics. Roundtree was 60 when he was fired.
A spokeswoman for TEGNA Inc., a Virginia company that runs WTSP and some 50 television stations, said Roundtree’s allegations were “baseless." The spokeswoman, Anne Bentley, declined to comment further.
Roundtree’s Palm Harbor lawyer, Wil Florin, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The lawsuit alleges the station fostered a hostile environment for older employees and moved to replace them with younger ones. Over the past several years, the lawsuit says, the station shortened Roundtree’s contracts and cut his pay. His most recent 18-month contract called for a demotion and pay cut as anchors younger than 40 were securing lucrative, longer-term contracts with the station.
Roundtree, who had worked for the station about 30 years, filed his first complaint Jan. 28 and was put on paid administrative leave the same day, according to the suit.
Meantime, a bizarre tie between Roundtree and longtime Largo defense lawyer John Trevena unspooled in court records. Trevena filed a petition for injunction against a woman he said was introduced to him by Roundtree, whom he called his “former best friend.”
Trevena represents Michael Drejka, convicted in August of manslaughter in the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in July 2018. Roundtree enjoyed exclusive access to Drejka that, in interviews with the Tampa Bay Times, both he and Trevena attributed to their friendship.
The station fired Roundtree on Feb. 8 but declined to say why. According to Florin, the station told his client it was because of questions about his journalistic ethics stemming from his friendship with Trevena. The lawsuit called that reason “pretext.”
Roundtree is seeking compensation for pay and benefits, emotional suffering and attorneys’ fees.