The civil trial of former news anchor Sandra Maas against KUSI has come to a close with a verdict reached by the jury in less than two days. While the jury was split on some of the claims, Maas was awarded over $1.5 million for the difference in pay attributed to gender, past and future lost wages, and past and future emotional distress. Maas and her attorneys are calling the verdict a “resounding victory” that should send a message to employers. Although they did not win on all counts, Maas expressed her relief and gratitude to the jury, her fellow journalists in San Diego, and the support of women and men who have helped her achieve pay equity.
Maas’ attorneys highlighted the pay inequity between genders in the media industry and called out KUSI for its actions. KUSI’s attorneys argued during the trial that Maas’ male co-anchor had more experience and worked harder than Maas. The jury did not find that KUSI had discriminated based on age or gender, or that it acted with malice, and awarded no punitive damages.
Maas expressed the importance of using one’s voice and speaking up against inequality, stating that “if you are silent, nothing will change.” KUSI expressed disappointment with the verdict but believes they have strong grounds for appeal. The breakdown of the verdict shows that the jury found in favor of Maas on the violation of Equal Pay Act and violation of Whistleblower Protections Act claims, but found in favor of McKinnon Broadcasting Co. on the age discrimination claim. The amount of damages awarded to Maas for the lost wages and emotional distress was $1,375,000, and the jury answered “NO” to whether McKinnon Broadcasting Co. engaged in the conduct of Malice, Oppression, or Fraud.