Employee-privacy rights. Compensation-based jealousy. Bitter co-workers. Electronic monitoring. Gender discrimination. Clash of the Gen X and Baby-Boomers, even? The continuing saga involving former news anchors Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane has all of the makings of an employment-law thriller.
Last we checked in with the two former news anchors, KYW-TV announced its decision to terminate long-time host, Larry Mendte, following a federal investigation and raid of Mendte’s home and office. On Monday, July 21, the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a federal criminal information charging Mendte with a single felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization.
The allegations, as detailed in meticulous fashion in the Information, are based on the government’s claim that Mendte hacked into Layne’s personal e-mail accounts and released the info he stole to the press and others. The hacking is said to have gone on for a period of two years but, last quarter alone, is alleged to have tapped into her accounts approximately 537 times. Lane’s lawyer is reported to say that Mendte was jealous of his younger co-host, who garnered lots of attention and who made $100,000 more than him a year.
That alleged jealousy could land Mendte with a jail sentence of up to six months.
The Acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, explained the government’s interest in the case. “We live in an age in which many people exchange and share personal, sensitive information by e-mail every day.”
This is a great lesson for employers. Privacy rights are on the minds of employees everywhere. It’s an already-serious issue when employers monitor their employees’ e-mail and internet use. But add to that a potential threat from co-workers and privacy paranoia seems like a very realistic possibility.
For earlier episodes in the soap opera: