03/10/2006

Woman sues for alleged firing over talk show bumper sticker

By: TERI FIGUEROA - Staff Writer

VISTA ---- A San Diego County woman is suing her former employer, accusing her manager of firing her on the spot when she saw the woman's car had a bumper sticker advertising a progressive talk radio station. The suit also alleges that, after seeing the sticker, the employer commented that the woman could be a member of al-Qaida.

In a civil suit filed at the county courthouse in Vista, Linda Laroca is targeting both her former manager, Beverly Fath, and the company she briefly worked for last year, Advantage Sales and Marketing, Inc. Neither Laroca nor the defendants could be reached for comment Wednesday. Laroca's attorney declined comment. Laroca, who was hired by the company as a sales representative, is seeking lost wages and damages for wrongful termination for violations of both public policy and the state labor code. She is also claiming state constitutional violations and emotional distress.The California labor code prohibits employers from controlling or directing the political activities of employees.According to Laroca's suit, the bumper sticker in question read only: "1360 Air America Progressive Talk Radio."

The nationwide syndicated radio programming from left-wing Air America, which describes itself as "progressive entertainment talk radio" features show hosts such as comedian and author Al Franken. The network programming is carried locally by radio station KLSD 1360 AM. A call to Clear Channel-owned KLSD on Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

In her Feb. 21 claim, Laroca asserts that on Oct. 8, three weeks after she started working for the marketing company, Fath called her on a Saturday and requested they meet at a nearby grocery store parking lot so Laroca could pass on some documents Fath needed. During the brief encounter, Laroca charges, the manager pointed to the bumper sticker ---- the only one on Laroca's car ---- and remarked that it was a new sticker and called it "that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station." Laroca alleges in her suit that Fath then told her, "The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al-Qaida."

A stunned Laroca laughed nervously at the statement, the suit alleges, and then was dealt "the final blow" when Fath fired her on the spot.
Contact staff writer Teri Figueroa at (760) 631-6624 or tfigueroa@nctimes.com

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