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Many Sinclair employees can't quit because their contracts make it too expensive

By William Gayde ยท 11 replies
Apr 4, 2018
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  1. The Sinclair Broadcasting Group has been in the news recently after forcing many TV stations to read the same scripted attack on the effects of social media and politics. As a result, some have wondered how Sinclair can stay in business and why anyone would still want to work for them. It turns out that many employees are legally trapped and would face huge fees if they decided to quit the company.

    According to documents obtained by Bloomberg from two separate sources, some Sinclair employees were forced to sign strict contracts when they became employees. These include six-month noncompete agreements, forced arbitration, and liquidated damages. Such contracts are standard among high-profile positions like on-air talent, but Sinclair has allegedly made employees who never appeared on TV sign them. The sources spoke under the condition of anonymously and added that these contracts are the only thing keeping them from quitting.

    One employee did, however, quit after being forced to interview citizens with loaded political questions that he felt did not represent real journalism. Sinclair then sued him for nearly $6,000 in damages. In some cases, employees must pay up to 40% of their annual salary to Sinclair.

    Legal and industry experts generally believe that these clauses likely won't stand up in a court, but the fact that employees may need to hire a lawyer if they want to quit serves Sinclair's purpose just as well. By strong-arming their employees into staying put and not speaking up, Sinclair can maintain their broadcasting dominance. They are still awaiting FCC approval for their purchase of Tribune Media which will give them a presence in most US households.

    Lead Photo Credit - LA Times

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,253   +2,724

    It doesn't take an expert. Last time I checked, slavery is kind of frowned upon in US.
  3. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,450   +1,620

    Sinclair is worthless trash, much like the rest of old media.
    davislane1 likes this.
  4. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 290   +176

    Let's see a statement that says they will be non bias and do there best to not pass fake news

    Those bastards.
  5. Prosercunus

    Prosercunus TS Maniac Posts: 263   +108

    I don't agree with their practices or strict contracts but slavery is a stretch. They are free to go with a financial penalty at any time.

    In fact it's not even uncommon practice for hospitals to pay for healthcare providers schooling with the clause that they work for the institution for an X number of years or face penalties on their provided education.
  6. skinnybuttons

    skinnybuttons TS Member

    It's more like indentured servitude than slavery. They have the opportunity to leave IF they've saved up enough to buy back their 'debt' or in this case their 'severance cost'. It's still a form of slavery, which as mentioned above, is generally frowned upon in the US. Your counterpoint doesn't take in to account that the medical professional has already had a cost paid for them; they've basically been given an advance on their education costs. It's more akin to a loan. In the Sinclair situation they haven't been given anything outside of an opportunity to work, they aren't paying them some kind of advance or paying for some sort of cost they would otherwise incur themselves.
    Godel and mbrowne5061 like this.
  7. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 336   +354

    A signed contract is not slavery. The person could have made changes and initialed them before signing. I did this a couple of times where a past employer tried to get me to sign non-disclosures. I drew a line threw that part, initialed it and told them "these are my terms". If they want you, there is some leeway to adjust contracts of al kinds. Most people just sign without reading. That's unwise, since every paid professional can read.
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,127   +602

    A signed contract is null and void if the contents of the contract are still illegal. For example: just because you contracted someone to commit a murder doesn't make the murder legal nor the contract binding. Same goes for any other practice that is illegal in the United States.
    OneSpeed and wiyosaya like this.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,431   +1,824

    I worked for a boss at a company a while back. I was let go from there, and then several years later, the boss, whom I thought was a d1ck, also left the company. On leaving the company, the boss refused to sign an NDA and thought that the fact that he refused to sign the NDA made him eligible to steal IP from the company he left and go to another company where he convinced them to produce a similar product from that IP, and he did that - yes, you read that right. He went to another company with the first company's IP and convinced them to produce a new product based on that IP. The first company had patents, copyrights, and other IP protection on its IP, and needless to say, the d1ck got sued and things did not go at all well for him.

    Moral of the story: You can refuse to sign an NDA but if you disclose IP from that company in a fashion that leads to an infringement on protected IP, it is advisable to not expect things to go well for you and to not expect that you will not get sued.

    Nevertheless, these employees had the chance to say no before they accepted employment on Sinclair's terms.

    But, now that this is getting out into the news, that Sinclair is promoting fake news, I would not be surprised if there is some blow-back, perhaps significant, on Sinclair as it basically makes any Sinclair group station suspect, and Sinclair liars in general.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  10. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 843   +278

    I had the opportunity to work for the Sinclair station in my city. After this scandal, I feel thankful I'm with Nexstar Media Group instead.
  11. Oshyan

    Oshyan TS Enthusiast Posts: 19   +26

    Time for a class action suit brought by employees/former employees then.
  12. Takes money for justice, that is what these types count on, they have more money and lawyers than you

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