Station Sues Reporter for Breach of Contract

A Meredith Station is suing one of their former Reporters for breach of contract. 

WNEM (Saginaw) is suing a former Reporter Nick Lulli for breach of contract after he left his job about three years early.

In the eyes of that employee, though, it's a case of a megacorporation coming down on a single man to be punitive.

MLive says that Meredith Corporation, the Iowa-based parent company of WNEM filed its suit against Lulli in Saginaw County District Court for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. 

Lulli, on March 9, 2015, entered into an employment agreement with WNEM that he was to work for them until March 8, 2019, according to the suit. The station argues Lulli violated this agreement by quitting on or about June 6, 2016.

"As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant's breach of the Employment Agreement, the Plaintiff has not received the benefit of the bargain struck with the Defendant and has sustained economic damages," the suit states.

Meredith Corporation is seeking a judgment against Lulli in the amount of $8,674.74.

The damages include costs associated with recruiting Lulli and his replacement, the cost of training provided to Lulli, duplicative employment-related taxes, overtime expenses, and productivity loss associated with training a replacement.

Regarding the unjust enrichment count, Meredith Corporation alleges they erroneously deposited $1,174.74 into Lulli's Bank of America account on June 17. Staff caught the error and attempted to correct it, issuing a second deposit of $170.06, which the suit claims was the correct amount Lulli was owed.

Lulli offers a different version of events. In his Nov. 29 response, which he authored himself, Lulli states the contract he signed was void because it was invalid, "extremely unjust," and that he was the victim of "discriminatory practices."

On May 26, 2016, Lulli emailed WNEM news director Ian B. Rubin to give his two-weeks' notice at the station. He worked his last day at the station on June 9 and relocated to his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, shortly thereafter.

On June 17, he noticed Meredith Corporation had deposited $1,174.74 into his bank account, an amount he claims he was owed. He paid some bills and a few days later, the amount was withdrawn from his account, causing his bill payments to bounce, he alleges.

Bank of America initiated a fraud investigation, he alleges, and later gave him back the $1,174.74.

Lulli alleges Meredith Corporation never contacted him about returning the money.

Further, he states he did not receive much training when hired to work at WNEM, as he was already skilled in the field, as he previously worked as a TV reporter in Georgia. He also said we went live for a story on his third day on the job at WNEM.

"Plaintiff had zero cost for recruitment of defendant," his response states. "Plaintiff was interviewed via phone. Plaintiff consistently has overtime expense and begs employees to work extra hours. Defendant cannot be held liable for incompetent staffing by management."

The response also cites a 1982 Michigan Supreme Court decision, which bars employment contracts requiring remuneration or consideration from an employee.

Lulli also offered two counterclaims in his response, one for assault and one for discrimination. The first count relates to an incident on May 17, 2015, when Lulli was assigned to visit the Genesee County home of a man flying Nazi and Confederate flags for a news story. Lulli, who is openly gay, alleges he was forced into the situation and was then verbally and physically attacked by the subject.

"Plaintiff took no action to follow up with prosecution of the individual for damages to not only the defendant, but also to the plaintiff's own vehicle," Lulli's response states. "Additionally, plaintiff took zero action to protect Lulli from further harm from this individual. Instead, Lulli was made to do a story about the encounter."

Lulli claims stress from this incident caused him to later develop gastroesophageal reflux disease, for which he was hospitalized.

Regarding the discrimination claim, Lulli alleges that despite receiving positive performance reviews, he was moved to an undesirable work shift to make room for another employee with poorer performance and attendance ratings.

"This is a multi-billion dollar corporation going after a single man who netted less than $30,000 last year," Lulli's response concludes. "Plaintiff has nothing to gain from this matter other than bankrupting the defendant."