Money Matters - Simplified

Oprah’s OWN sued for ill-treatment of ex-employee

After the media-mogul said she would increase her on-air commitment to the network, Discovery agreed to invest $189 million into it, almost double the previously committed $100 million.

A former employee at Oprah Winfrey’s new venture OWN has accused the network of oppression and ill-treatment.

Catherine Dunn has blamed the company for creating an unfriendly work environment and has filed a wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit against them.

Dunn started working as an executive assistant with Oprah’s company in August 2008.

The ex-OWN employee, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, has claimed that her condition was exacerbated due to workplace stress.

Ex-employee sues Oprah’s OWN
According to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Catherine Dunn says she was “subjected to a hostile work environment” because of her medical condition.

Dunn alleges that she was forced to take a stress leave as well a leave of absence since her symptoms got worsened while working at OWN. While she was on leave, her place was filled by “a non-disabled and younger employee,” according to the lawsuit.

Dunn has sued Oprah’s yet-to-be-launched network for wrongful termination and discrimination; she seeks unspecified damages from the company.

Dunn has sued Oprah’s yet-to-be-launched network for wrongful termination and discrimination; she seeks unspecified damages from the company

People at OWN are still not aware of the charges filed against the company. “We have not seen the lawsuit. We are unaware of the claims. When and if we see something we will review appropriately,” said a spokesperson for OWN.

While it tries to clear out this legal mess, OWN is simultaneously gearing up for its big launch. The network, scheduled to kick off early next year, will air shows featuring Winfrey, and other celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell and Shania Twain.

Discovery doubles its budget
Recently, Discovery Communications declared it has almost doubled its funding for OWN.

After the media-mogul said she would increase her on-air commitment to the network, Discovery agreed to invest $189 million into it, almost double the previously committed $100 million.

So fans will not be missing Oprah much, even after the wrap of her long-running show.

Reportedly, Winfrey has agreed to host or star in a show on her new network, as a part of her agreement. Discovery is looking to make the most of Winfrey's popularity and gain from advertising deals.

It was earlier announced that the TV Queen would be featured in a prime time travel series, ‘Oprah's Next Chapter,’ which will go on air in late 2011.