A Christian evangelist and former television weatherman has filed a religious-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over his firing by a television station in Norfolk, Va.
Morning weatherman Jon Cash abruptly was fired by NBC affiliate WAVY-TV on Aug. 31, two days after mentioning during a sermon that he was considering leaving broadcasting for full-time ministry when his contract expires next summer.
The EEOC is pursuing an “active investigation,” according to Gary C. Byler, legal counsel for Cash. Once the EEOC has completed its investigation, Cash may pursue civil litigation.
“Before you can sue civilly (in an area under EEOC jurisdiction) you have to give the EEOC an opportunity to investigate,” Byler told WND.
“I’m not the suing kind of person,” Cash told WND. “I spent a week praying and, in the end, what came to mind was, ‘If good men do nothing, evil prospers.’ God is a god of justice, and the courts are where you seek justice.”
Cash had worked as a WAVY weatherman for nearly 21 years while pursuing his preaching, evangelism and missionary work during off hours and vacations.
The firing “could not be an economic decision, I’m quite certain of that,” Cash told WND.
“Our show was one of the highest rated in the country,” Cash explained. “WAVY was making millions and millions of dollars, so this points in my mind to a case of religious discrimination.”
WAVY refused to discuss Cash’s dismissal.
“We do not comment on personnel issues,” a staffer told WND.
Byler told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that WAVY General Manager Doug Davis had “questioned Cash’s religious activities” at least one time before firing him.
“Every complaint my former employer lodged against me directly related to the ministry work for the Lord,” wrote Cash on his website.
Cash told WND one of the complaints was that a local pastor had placed Cash’s name and “WAVY TV 10” on the church billboard when Cash preached there. WAVY also complained because Cash was sending e-mails to local churches from the television station announcing his availability to preach.
“I had been doing that for a decade, and they just brought it up,” said Cash. “The previous general manager understood my preaching drew viewers to the station. He supported my preaching because he knew it was good for business. This other general manager had the idea that it was bad for business.”
Byler told WND that once EEOC completes its investigation and issues a “letter to sue,” Cash may pursue civil litigation for breach of contract in addition to the discrimination charges.
Cash told WND his contract entitled him to 60 days of severance pay if WAVY decided to terminate him. He accused WAVY of withholding the severance package because he refused to sign a separation contract waiving his right to sue the station or file an EEOC discrimination complaint.
Byler said WAVY “is clearly in breach” of the contract. Cash is seeking an apology from WAVY, a promise that the station will not discriminate against employees for their off-hour religious activities and monetary damages.