KPFA Staff File Charges Against General Manager By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday August 12, 2005

Eight female KPFA employees filed sexual harassment complaints against station General Manager Roy Campanella II Thursday, alleging that Campanella asked them out on dates and retaliated against employees who refused his advances. 

KPFA Training Co-Director Rain Geesler said in a prepared statement that Campanella asked her out within weeks of his being hired last year. Lemlem Rijio said in a press release that when she rebuffed Campanella’s inappropriate behavior he “started to retaliate against me daily with threats of termination, harassment, slander, as well as hostile and discriminatory treatment.” 

Campanella, reached by telephone Thursday, said, “None of my actions have violated any laws.” He added that he was ready to work “openly and honestly with all of [his] co-workers.” 

The KPFA Local Station Board has scheduled a closed-door meeting this Sunday to determine Campanella’s future with the station. 

“I find [the complaint] very disturbing because we have an internal process for redressing this situation and we haven’t finished that process,” said Board Member Chandra Hauptman. 

The employees filed their complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which will now investigate the matter. If the DFEH substantiates the complaints, it has the power to file suit against the station and award damages to the eight plaintiffs, said Bill Harvey, Secretary Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America. 

Harvey said the plaintiffs chose to take their complaint before the DFEH because the department lacked the authority to threaten the station’s license. Had the women taken their complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Harvey said, the commission could have opted to seek termination of KPFA’s broadcast license. 

“This is an effort to resolve the matter while keeping KPFA healthy,” he said. 

If Campanella stays, Lisa Ballard, the station’s webmaster and union shop steward, warned of wide-scale employee resignations. “I cannot imagine working here if he sticks around,” she said. 

The complaint comes after KPFA conducted two investigations into the allegations and declined so far to take disciplinary action against Campanella, Harvey said. An investigation by the local station board has not been released publicly. 

According to a press release by the plaintiffs, women at KPFA who turned down Campanella’s advances were retaliated against through “public belittlement, threats to cut funding, criticism of their work to supervisors, slander and threats of termination.” 

Campanella reaffirmed Thursday that while he may have asked employees—men and women—to movies, they were never meant as dates. He also said he planned to remain at KPFA. 

Harvey said the plaintiffs would likely rescind their complaint if Campanella stepped down. All eight plaintiffs continue to work at the station.  

In July, 70 out of 300 paid and unpaid KPFA staff signed a letter of no confidence in Campanella. The sharply divided local station board has so far not recommended Campanella’s dismissal to acting Pacifica Foundation Executive director Ambrose Lane. 

KPFA-Berkeley is one of the Pacifica’s Foundation’s five community stations. 

One board faction maintains that station staff have embarked on a power grab and they question if the sexual harassment complaint is tool to strengthen their position, according to Program Council member Stan Woods. 

“I’m very skeptical about the whole move to get rid of Campanella,” Woods said. “I think it has a lot more to do with the [morning schedule] than with the purported reasons being given.” 

In addition to the complaint filed by the eight female employees, the union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over an incident last May when the union said Campanella threatened to assault Hard Knock Radio Executive Producer Weyland Southon.