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View Full Version : Man Outed on Radio Show to Receive $270K



RBA
08-14-2005, 05:43 PM
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Man Outed on Radio Show to Receive $270K




The Associated Press
Sunday, August 14, 2005; 3:35 PM


SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco man who says he was devastated after he was identified as gay on a national Spanish-language radio show will be paid $270,000 by Univision Radio, an arbitrator has ruled.

Roberto Hernandez, 45, was driving to work in 2002 when he received a phone call from a man who said that he met Hernandez at a San Francisco gay bar. The caller then announced that the conversation was being broadcast live on the "Raul Brindis and Pepito Show," based in Houston.

Hernandez worked for the local station that broadcast the show, and sold advertising for the program. He said he was so depressed by the incident that he could no longer work.

"It's a nightmare," Hernandez said. "How do you live with such an embarrassment in your life? How do you live when someone makes your life so insignificant? "

Hernandez had been discreet about disclosing his sexual orientation before the incident, not even telling his family.

Arbitrator Rebecca Westerfield found on Friday that Hernandez had suffered emotional distress but dismissed claims of sexual harassment. She said that Hernandez had no choice but to quit his job and was owed workers' compensation.

Hernandez was awarded $250,000 and nearly $20,000 in economic damages because of the emotional distress that led to seven months of unemployment after quitting his job.

Univision attorneys declined to comment on the case.

___

Information from: San Francisco Chronicle

RedsBaron
08-14-2005, 07:26 PM
The antics of radio shows and shock jocks became tiresome long ago.

Unassisted
08-14-2005, 07:38 PM
In this case, I think the award was about right. While I don't like to see frivolous multi-million dolar windfalls, I would sure hate to see tort reform take away someone's right to sue for invasion of privacy.

RBA
08-14-2005, 08:26 PM
How is this an invasiion of privacy? The man is gay. He needs to deal with it, not hide.

RFS62
08-14-2005, 08:42 PM
How is this an invasiion of privacy? The man is gay. He needs to deal with it, not hide.

Shouldn't that be his choice?

dsmith421
08-14-2005, 08:45 PM
Mr. Hernandez chose to hold himself out as a heterosexual for whatever reason--he was discreet to a fault, and never even told his family. Whether you think that action is correct, it is his choice to do so. Publication of these private facts is actionable in almost every American jurisdiction, and clearly Mr. Hernandez suffered some mental distress from having the intimate details of his private life thrust into the public eye.

Imagine if someone went on the Internet and revealed the names of every person you ever dated/slept with/etc. Or revealed the contents of intimate conversations you had with those people. These disclosures may be 100% true, but that doesn't mean that the disclosing party had any right to publish information you clearly wished to remain secret.

RBA
08-14-2005, 09:39 PM
Apparently he wasn't discreet enought. Is going to a gay bar being discreet? I say no.

Unassisted
08-14-2005, 10:12 PM
Apparently he wasn't discreet enought. Is going to a gay bar being discreet? I say no.Assuming there is a gay bar in El Paso and that you never go there, would you know if one of your apparently heterosexual co-workers patronized it?

If the bar in question was a substantial distance from the people to whom he portrayed himself as heterosexual, why is it unreasonable for him to expect that he would never encounter any of those people there?

RBA
08-14-2005, 10:20 PM
Assuming there is a gay bar in El Paso and that you never go there, would you know if one of your apparently heterosexual co-workers patronized it?

If the bar in question was a substantial distance from the people to whom he portrayed himself as heterosexual, why is it unreasonable for him to expect that he would never encounter any of those people there?

Sorry, but I don't think he was discreet by going to a gay bar. It's a small world.

RFS62
08-14-2005, 10:23 PM
Sorry, but I don't think he was discreet by going to a gay bar. It's a small world.


If you went to a strip club, unknown to your fellow workers, would you be fair game to be talked about on the radio?

RBA
08-14-2005, 10:46 PM
If you went to a strip club, unknown to your fellow workers, would you be fair game to be talked about on the radio?

I really wouldn't care. My fellow workers are the ones more likely to go however. ;)

cincinnati chili
08-14-2005, 11:31 PM
Here's a legal note: if Roberto Hernandez had been considered a "public figure," this report would have been fair game.

This seems like a lot of money, but if you publicly disclose private facts, you're liable for the consequences, and assume the risk that the aggrieved party is emotionally fragile.

So, note to shock jocks everywhere - it's okay to report that Tom Cruise walked into a gay bar (so long as you can prove it) - but it's risky to report this information about Joe Schmo.

RFS62
08-14-2005, 11:36 PM
Note to self: Kill the gay doughnut bar post I've been researching.

REDREAD
08-14-2005, 11:38 PM
Here's a thought though. Would it have been any different if he was having an affair with a woman and his conversation with the woman was broadcast over the air?

It seems like he was depressed that his "straight" life was blown away. Seems to me that when you live a life of lies, it's going to blow up in your face eventually. You just have to assume that.

I don't see how it's invading his privacy if he's out in public trying to pick up other guys.

dsmith421
08-14-2005, 11:46 PM
Sorry, but I don't think he was discreet by going to a gay bar. It's a small world.

Restatement (Second) of Torts Section 652D (1976):

One who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy, if the matter publicized is of a kind that (a) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (b) is not of legitimate concern to the public.

Is Mr. Hernandez's sexual orientation a matter of legitimate concern to the public? No way. Would the reasonable person in Mr. Hernandez's shoes find the disclosure of his sexual orientation to be highly offensive? I'd say so, given what we know about him. (Note that this does not mean that the reasonable person finds homosexuality to be offensive, it means that a reasonable person doesn't want their sexual proclivities discussed on the airwaves.)

If we let violations of privacy like this go, we might be setting up some serious problems. For example, what if a shock jock went on the air and named private citizens he knew had abortions? Or who were HIV-positive? Or who participated in 'deviant' sexual practices? I suspect you would find this to be highly offensive.

Cincinnati_chili made the point about the legal distinction between a public figure and a private citizen. It's important to note that Mr. Hernandez did not hold himself out in the public sphere, his orientation was no one's business, and was certainly not a matter of public concern. Now, if Rick Santorum was the plaintiff at issue, I'd say you have a point--he holds himself out as some sort of farcical 'moral crusader' and has made his infantile views on homosexuality clear. But in this case, the DJ's action was just beyond the pale.

Michael Allred
08-15-2005, 12:19 AM
I don't see how it's invading his privacy if he's out in public trying to pick up other guys.

Hold your horses there Lone Ranger, going to a gay bar does NOT necessarily mean you're looking for sex.

TeamCasey
08-15-2005, 07:50 AM
Hold your horses there Lone Ranger, going to a gay bar does NOT necessarily mean you're looking for sex.

Actually, going to a gay bar doesn't even mean you're gay.

zombie-a-go-go
08-15-2005, 08:39 AM
Actually, going to a gay bar doesn't even mean you're gay.

This is true; I've been to "gay bars" before and, last time I checked, I wasn't homosexually inclined. Friends of mine who sit on the other side of the fence, as they say, have had birthday parties in them that I've attended, and some of my female friends prefer going to gay bars so they're not getting hit on every five minutes. :)

REDREAD
08-15-2005, 10:12 AM
Hold your horses there Lone Ranger, going to a gay bar does NOT necessarily mean you're looking for sex.

Maybe I read the story wrong, I was under the impression that they broadcasted part of his discussion which "outed" him. I agree that they shouldn't have broadcasted his discussion without his knowledge.

But I think he brought all this "mental anguish" upon himself. He was clearly married and having affairs and it blew up on him (like it usually does to cheaters). The radio just made it happen sooner.

Unassisted
08-15-2005, 10:35 AM
But I think he brought all this "mental anguish" upon himself. He was clearly married and having affairs and it blew up on him (like it usually does to cheaters). The radio just made it happen sooner.Where did you come up with that? I just looked up some other articles on this story, because I thought this was new information. I didn't find any reference to the victim of the hoax being married.

The DJs did use some slurs on the air before, during and after this prank that resulted in the parent company issuing new rules about words that were not permissible to use on the air. This article (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3091048) in the Houston Chronicle has more on that mitigating factor.