United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
KELLY VAUGHN, Plaintiff: Mary Beth Ramey, Richard D. Hailey,
RAMEY & HAILEY, Indianapolis, IN.
RADIO ONE, Defendant: Andrew J. Dorman, REMINGER CO. L.P.A.,
Cleveland, OH; Brian P. Nally, REMINDER CO., L.P.A.,
ON DEFENDANT RADIO ONE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
EVANS BARKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before us on Defendant Radio One of Indiana,
L.P.'s (" Radio One" ) Motion for Summary
Judgment. [Dkt. No. 64.] The motion is fully briefed. [
See Dkt. Nos. 72, 79.] For the following reasons, we
GRANT Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Vaughn's Employment with Radio
One owns and operates various radio stations in the
Indianapolis, Indiana area. [Declaration of Jacqueline D.
Kindall, Director of Human Resources for Radio One ("
Kindall Decl." ) at ¶ 2.] During the relevant time
period, Radio One employed approximately 86 employees,
one-third of whom were female. [ Id. at ¶ 6.]
At the time of the events giving rise to this litigation,
Radio One's entire Human Resources department was female.
[ Id. at ¶ 5.]
Kelly Vaughn was a part-time employee of Radio One as a board
operator/on-air talent from May 29, 2012 until July 2012.
[Deposition of Kelly Vaughn (" Vaughn Dep." ) at
14, Ex. 2; Dkt. No. 72-1 (WTLC Press Release).] At the time
she joined Radio One, both Chuck Williams, Vice President and
General Manager of Radio One, and Karen Vaughn, the Program
Director of WTLC-FM, were enthusiastic about having Ms.
Vaughn as part of the Radio One team. [Dkt. No. 72-1 (Karen
Vaughn stated, " Kelly is a true radio professional. As
a staple within the Indianapolis market, her expertise in
broadcast news will be a great addition to the Tom Joyner
Morning show. We are elated to have Kelly on our team."
) (Chuck Williams stated, " We are very excited to have
Kelly join our Radio One Indianapolis team. Her many years of
professional News and Service work have helped Kelly become
an icon in the market." ).] At the time she was hired by
Radio One, Ms. Vaughn was also employed by LeSEA
Broadcasting, Channel 40. [Vaughn Dep. at 38-39, 41, 62, 68.]
2012, Ms. Vaughn's position changed to a part-time news
announcer. [ Id. at 19-20.] At all times during her
employment, Ms. Vaughn was a part-time, at-will employee and
reported to her direct supervisor, Program Director Karen
Vaughn. [ Id. At 20, 35-36; Kindall Decl. at ¶
6.] Ms. Vaughn believed that Krishna Henderson-Hutchinson was
also her supervisor for AM radio-related matters. [Vaughn
Dep. at 21-23.]
condition of her employment, Ms. Vaughn was required to agree
to Radio One's policies and procedures. [Kindall Decl. at
¶ 7.] One such policy was Radio One's Business
Ethics and Conduct Policy, which provided in relevant part:
[Vaughn Dep. at 30, Ex. 5 (Radio One Business Ethics &
Conduct Policy) at page 1 of 6.] An employee's failure to
comply with the Business Ethics & Conduct Policy could
subject that employee to disciplinary action. [ Id.
at 30-31; Business Ethics & Conduct Policy at page 4 of 6
(" Disregarding or failing to comply with this policy
may subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and
including termination." ).] Ms. Vaughn signed the Radio
One Business Ethics & Conduct Policy on June 1, 2012. [
Id. at Ex. 5, p. 5-6 (" I hereby represent that
I have read this policy and that I understand its
Vaughn also agreed to follow Radio One's Conflicts of
Interest Policy. [ Id. at 36, Ex. 7.] That policy
provided in relevant part:
[ Id. at 36-37, Ex. 7 at p.1 (" Conflicts
Policy" ).] Examples of conflicts of interest include:
using the Company's name or property to further an
employee's personal interests or diverting business
opportunities away from the company. [ Id. at Ex. 7
at p. 2.] The Conflicts Policy further provided:
[ Id. ] Like the Business Ethics and Conduct Policy,
the Conflicts Policy expressly noted " that any person
found to have violated this policy shall be subject to
disciplinary action, up to and including termination of
employment." [ Id. at 37-38, Ex. 7 at p. 3.]
Ms. Vaughn signed the Conflicts of Interest Policy on June 1,
2012. [ Id. at 6 of 7 (" I hereby represent
that I have read this policy and that I understand its
Amos and Abdul Show.
latter part of 2011, Ms. Vaughn approached the late Amos
Brown and " pitched" to him the idea of a TV show
for LeSEA Broadcasting (" Channel 40" ). [Vaughn
Dep. at 15-16; Brown Dep. at 14.] At that time, Mr. Brown was
an on-air personality for Radio One, hosting Afternoons
with Amos Brown, a daily talk show airing on Radio
One's WTLC-AM radio station. [Kindall Decl. at ¶ 3,
n.1; see also Brown Dep. at 31 (Mr. Brown was
engaged in the radio industry from 1975 until his untimely
death in 2015).] Ms. Vaughn sought to create and produce a TV
show called " Amos and Abdul," which would consist
of a point-counterpoint debate between Amos Brown and
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz on hot-button issues (the "
Show" ). [Vaughn Dep. at Exs. 9, 16.] Mr. Brown
testified that he had not been approached about an Amos &
Abdul Show prior to the above-referenced pitch in 2011.
[Brown Dep. at 14.] According to Ms. Vaughn, Mr. Brown
claimed he had permission from Radio One to do the Show, but,
as it turned out, that was not true. [Vaughn Dep. at 101.]
planning the Show, Mr. Brown met with managers and sales
representatives of Channel 40. [Brown Dep. at 30.] Ms. Vaughn
purchased the rights to several URLs, including
AmosandAbdul.com; TheAmosandAbdulShow.com; and
AmosandAbdulShow.com. [Vaughn Dep. at 42, 61-62, Ex. 21.] Ms.
Vaughn also created social media pages on Facebook and
Twitter using the name and likeness of Amos Brown and
photographs of Mr. Brown he had had taken specifically to
promote the show. [ Id. ; Brown Dep. at 33-34.]
Generally during this time Radio One relied on Mr.
Brown's judgment with respect to the use of his image and
name and did not require Mr. Brown to have his Facebook pages
or Twitter posts pre-approved by Radio One. [Brown Dep. at
Vaughn never received approval from Radio One to create or
produce the Amos and Abdul show, purchase URLs with the names
Amos and Abdul, or create social media accounts using Mr.
Brown's name and likeness. [Kindall Decl. at ¶
¶ 3, 8; Vaughn Dep. at 96-97, 130-32.] According to
Ms. Vaughn never disclosed her involvement in the TV Show or
that she was the Executive Producer to Radio One, never
received approval from Radio One to develop the TV Show or
use Amos Brown in the TV Show, never received approval to
provide these services for one of Radio One's
competitors, never received approval to purchase URLs and
social media pages using the name and likeness of one of
Radio One's employees, Amos ...