October 23, 1995

Dennis Ketterer, terminated by Channel 7 last June just a week after he had won a regional Emmy Award as outstanding weathercaster, has sued the station for $12 million, charging discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act. He's also seeking reinstatement to his job, claiming breach of contract .

The suit, filed Oct. 13 in D.C. Superior Court against WJLA-TV (Channel 7), a division of Allbritton Communications Co., asks $10 million for mental anguish, pain and suffering, emotional distress and humiliation, and an additional $2 million in punitive damages . . .

WJLA president Terry Connelly declined to comment on Friday, saying, "We don't discuss personnel matters." WJLA news director Gary Wordlaw would say only, "Talk to my lawyer." Neither is named in the suit . . .

And Ketterer, who has been studying to obtain a license to sell financial securities since leaving WJLA, said his attorney, Richard D. Heideman, had advised him not to comment . . .

According to the suit, Ketterer, who joined the station as a part-time weather reporter in October 1992, had sought counseling for depression on several occasions following the death of his wife in January 1986 and the death of his father this past January . . .

On or about Feb. 15 of this year, the suit claims, Ketterer was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from a manic-depressive illness known as bipolar II disorder, for which treatment with lithium was prescribed . . .

Ketterer that same day notified Wordlaw of his "treatable" illness. The news director's "demeanor," according to the suit, "immediately changed from one of caring concern to a reaction of repugnance," and the notification caused a "definite and noticeable change" in Wordlaw's treatment and attitude toward Ketterer . . .

Nevertheless, Ketterer continued as lead meteorologist and weathercaster for the station . . .

A month later, in response to an ongoing request that employees submit ideas and proposals for news stories and series to be aired by the station, Ketterer sent a memo to Wordlaw through the WJLA computer with three story ideas, including one for a three-part series on manic-depressive illness. Ketterer reiterated in the memo, which is attached to the suit, that he had been diagnosed with the illness. In the memo, Ketterer makes no mention of sharing his personal experience with viewers. . .

He also proposed a series on UFOs and a weekly segment on gardening . . 

On March 24, two days after Ketterer had sent the e-mail memo, Wordlaw read it and, according to the suit, ordered him to attend a noon meeting the next day, at which time he was told his employment was terminated, effective June 30 . . .


Meteorologist Dennis Ketterer Returns to ... - Salisbury News

03/2015