Out Weatherman Sues Former Employer; Claims Anti-Gay, Religious Discrimination

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday April 26, 2021
Originally published on April 20, 2021

Sven Sundgaard, out former weatherman for Minneapolis TV station KARE 11, is suing the station, saying his firing last year was due to being openly gay, in addition to his Jewish faith, local newspaper Star Tribune reports.

According to the suit, Sundgaard's firing capped off a decade's worth of hostile work conditions, including a co-worker asking him in 2010, after his conversion of Judaism, if he remained a believer in Jesus as the Messiah.

"The suit also claims that a former news director made a hostile comment toward him in 2007 when the meteorologist appeared on the cover of Lavender Magazine, a Twin Cities publication for the LGBTQ community," the newspaper article added.

Further, the suit contends: "KARE reprimanded him for making a 'size really does matter' joke on air when doing a story on whether Minnesota or Wisconsin has more lakes," the article said.

The suit, noted Star Tribune, alleges that "the station's human resources department routinely ignored the weatherman's reports of discrimination and harassment."

As reported by EDGE at the time, Sundgaard was fired after sharing a Facebook post from a Minnesota rabbi that called out gun-toting, Confederate-flag waving protestors who descended on the residence of Minnesota's Democratic governor, Tim Walz, to protest COVID-19 safety protocols.

The Facebook comments originally posted by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz denounced the so-called "reopen" protestors as "white nationalist Nazi sympathizer gun fetishist miscreants."

The Star Tribune article recalled that Sundegaard's re-posting of the comment drew the ire - and the abuse - of online trolls, including Jason Lewis, former Rep. of Minnesota and U.S. Senate candidate at the time, who took to Twitter to fire off like this: "Today's forecast: mostly sunny with a chance of idiocy ... @kare11 should fire him!"

A right-wing site pounced on Sundegaard's post, capturing a screenshot before it was later deleted, media sources said.

Sundegaard attempted to reach out to station management about the post, but he was fired a day later. The station announced the firing on May 1, claiming "continued violations of KARE11's news ethics and other policies" on Sundgaard's part.

The Star Tribune reported that Sundegaard took to social media last week after filing the suit, posting: "While a lawsuit is not ideal for anyone, I believe it is important to take action to prevent what happened to me from happening to others.

"I do this also, for the countless young people who have thanked me for being an openly gay man, making it easier for them to be true to themselves.

"My late mom always taught me to stick up for myself."

KARE and its parent company, TENGA (also named in the suit) issued a statement saying: "inclusion" was a "core value" and added: "We are committed to maintaining a respectful workplace free from all forms of discrimination and harassment."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.