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iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) Suit Alleges Sexual Harrassment

 width=A former iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) Communications employee says that the radio network’s Omaha offices are rife with sexual harassment and that she was fired after reporting it.

Jean Kaechele, 44, said in a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 16 that her boss made vulgar references and spoke about genitalia, having sex with various women and other inappropriate topics. She wants her job back, along with back pay and other restitution.

Neither iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) nor the former boss would answer questions about the lawsuit.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on litigation or personnel matters,” said iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) Executive Vice President Wendy Goldberg in an email.

The boss, Taylor Walet III, said, “No comment.”

In one alleged November 2007 incident, Kaechele asked Walet if she could turn up the thermostat.

According to the suit, he replied: “Oh yeah, I can see it’s nipply in here” and looked at her breasts.

“(Kaechele) left the room and never wore that blouse again,” says the lawsuit.

Kaechele says she was hired at iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) in June 2007 as the general sales manager and director of sales training for the Omaha office, which includes five radio stations.

She says the harassment began when Walet hired a friend in September 2007, and the two apparently encouraged each other. That friend has since left iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel).

Soon after the friend’s hiring, a human resources representative called Kaechele, and she told the representative about several incidents. The suit says human resources ultimately found her allegations of sexual harassment unfounded.

Kaechele says that Walet continued to harass her, and he threatened her after he learned of the investigation.

“I don’t forget these things,” he said, according to her court filings. “Paybacks are hell.”

She says he used companywide layoffs in 2009 as an excuse to fire her. He soon filled that position with someone who had no previous radio experience, says the lawsuit.

Kaechele’s lawyer, Michael Merrick, said former and current employees of the company plan to testify in favor of her version of events, but he would not release their names.

The iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) corporate website details its anti-discrimination policies:

“Our ZERO TOLERANCE policy that prohibits discrimination extends beyond our employees, into each and every market in which we conduct business,” it says.

Kaechele is saying iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) broke those policies. She wants the court to rule that she is owed back pay, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages, and she wants to be reinstated.

She also wants the court to ban iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) from engaging in such acts of discrimination or retaliation against her.

Since her termination, Kaechele has not found another “comparable” job.

“There is not an overabundance of positions in her field in the Omaha area, particularly given the poor shape of the economy since she lost her job in 2009,” her lawyer said in an email. “She is now self-employed but making a small fraction of what she earned at iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel).”

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