Firing follows demotion for gay Miami anchorman

Sat. August 8, 2009 12:00 AM by

Miami, FL - Openly gay Miami anchorman Charles Perez's descent from anchorman to reporter was followed this week with a pink slip, the Miami Herald reported.

"His employment has been terminated," Perez's business attorney Melanie E. Damian confirmed to the paper.

Perez accused Miami ABC affiliate WPLG of discrimination in a complaint filed with Miami-Dade's Equal Opportunity Board on July 31.

In his complaint, the forty-six-year-old alleges station bosses demoted him "because of their discomfort over the increasingly high profile of my sexual orientation."

The anchorman claims a former partner, Dennis Ricardo Pena, forwarded an email to WPLG staff where Perez confides in a Los Angeles therapist that he needs to work through his "gender identity issues." Three days later, bosses told him his television persona was "too soft," and he smiled too much – "like girlfriends" – with co-anchor Laurie Jennings.

After notifying management, Perez moved forward with a restraining order against his former partner, whom Perez claimed was stalking him and threatening to destroy his career. Pena responded with an 11-page motion filled with salacious stories that quickly made headlines in Miami.

Perez was demoted to weekend anchor/street reporter on July 22, and fired days after he filed his discriminatory complaint.

"WPLG is disappointed that the actions of Charles Perez left us no real choice other than to terminate his employment contract," WPLG Vice President and General Manager Dave Boylan said in a statement. "WPLG emphatically denies Perez's claim of discrimination. The document he is circulating is filled with misstatements and untruths."

Station executives have said Perez was demoted as a cost-cutting effort, a claim Perez says is nonsense because the station is contractually obligated to pay him a full salary for the remainder of his contract.

News director Bill Pohovey called Perez's claims "outrageous."

"As a gay man myself, I can safely say the station does not discriminate against gay people," he said in a statement.

Perez told gossip website that he plans on filling a "7 or 8 figure lawsuit" against WPLG and its parent company.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine