A lawsuit filed by sports broadcaster Warner Wolf that accused Don Imus of age discrimination—alleging that Imus made inappropriate comments about his age and refused to give him a new contract after Wolf moved out of state—has settled on the side of the legendary Imus.
Wolf filed a complaint in New York in February claiming that Imus wouldn't give him a new contract after he moved to Florida—and that he was ultimately replaced with a sportscaster decades younger “even after he began contributing remotely, agreed to reduce his salary and got confirmation that a new employment agreement was on its way,” according to court documents, as referenced in a story by The Hollywood Reporter. Wolf further claimed that Imus and his radio partners refused to honor a severance clause.
New York Supreme Court Justice James d'Auguste dismissed the complaint on a technicality, writing that because Wolf is a Florida resident, “he lacks a viable claim under New York human rights law.” But the judge went further in saying the suit lacks credibility. According to court documents obtained by Inside Radio, “As Wolf is neither a resident of, nor employed in, the City or State of New York, his claims… are dismissed.” And then: “Wolf has not alleged any potentially meritorious factual basis for any of his causes of action, and instead relies on a series of blanket conclusory assertions and assumptions.” The judge adds that there are only “stray comments made by Imus, a member of same protected class as Wolf.” By class, the judge is referencing the fact that Imus is 78, while Wolf is 80.
Wolf began appearing on WABC New York’s “Imus in the Morning” in December 1996, and continued as a sports contributor for the program for 20 years, ending in 2016, according to the lawsuit. Imus retired in March.
Beginning in December 2015, Wolf began contributing to the show from Naples, FL, instead of from WABC's New York studios, with an annual salary of $195,000. His employment agreement also provided for 26 weeks of severance pay in the event that Wolf was “terminated without cause.” The Hollywood Reporter story explains that in October 2016, Wolf agreed to a reduction in salary from $195,000 to $80,000 a year, which retained the 26-week severance pay from the original agreement. Before Wolf's new negotiated agreement went into effect, he was terminated and replaced by sportscaster Sid Rosenberg.
Imus sent an email to Wolf that said: "If you're in the studio in New York . . . it's terrific. Anything else is not." Wolf's last broadcast on the show was Nov. 4, 2016.