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ESPN ordered to rehire staffer fired in demotion flap

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A federal judge has ordered ESPN to rehire a former secretary who was fired six years ago after refusing to accept a demotion when her boss’s job was eliminated.

U.S. District Judge Peter Dorsey ordered the Bristol-based cable television sports network to rehire Elaine Truskoski by July 1 as a staff secretary and pay her a salary of at least $ 29,862.

The salary is what Truskoski, 45, earned when she was fired in April 1987 plus the annual raises she would have received over the six years it took her to get her job back.

Dorsey said ESPN also must pay Truskoski’s legal fees, but he did not order any back pay because he said she had received severance pay, drawn unemployment compensation and had not actively sought full-time work.

The judge’s ruling, handed down last week, was in response to a civil rights lawsuit Truskoski filed in the spring of 1990.

“My lawsuit will hopefully shed light on women’s issues and, more importantly , produce change,” Truskoski said Tuesday from Tampa, Fla., where she was vacationing.

Mike Sotys, spokesman for ESPN, said the network will appeal.

In her lawsuit, Truskoski contended she was fired for challenging the company’s policy of demoting secretaries along with their bosses.

Truskoski was executive secretary to Allan B. Connal, second-in-command at ESPN. Connal was demoted during a reorganization after ESPN was purchased by Capital Cities-ABC Inc.

During the trial ESPN testified that when Connal was demoted, Truskoski’s responsibilities shrank. The company also contended she had turned down offers of three positions at the same levels of pay and benefits, jobs which Truskoski said would have meant a loss of status in the company and would have diminished her advancement opportunities.

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