Christian TV network Daystar made the news last year when its co-founder revealed he'd had an affair with an employee. Now an ex-employee says the network tolerated such affairs by its male employees, but fired her for having a consensual relationship with a coworker.
According to the Dallas Observer, former Daystar employee Karen Thompson says that her relationship with a Daystar colleague was "not prohibited by any policy of Daystar." But Daystar co-founder Joni Lamb told her "that she had 'shamed' both Daystar and Joni Lamb, called [Thompson] a 'liar' and a 'bad example' and told [Thompson] that she was 'unhealthy.'" And when Thompson wouldn't break up with her coworker, she was demoted, then fired.
This was in stark contrast, says Thompson, with how men at Daystar were treated. Her boyfriend, for instance, was not fired. Joni Lamb's father Bill Trammell continued working despite allegations of sexual harassment. And, perhaps most high-profile, co-founder Marcus Lamb (pictured, with Joni) stayed on even after going public about his affair with a subordinate.
Lamb announced his affair last year, saying that employees were trying to use information about the affair to extort him. He told the Good Morning America, "They were trying to turn our pain into their gain." The Lambs also said they'd considered discussing the infidelity publicly even before the alleged extortion attempt — said Joni Lamb, "I'm kind of glad, actually, that we can share it." They added that they wanted to help other couples heal their marriages through faith.
This image of good Christian role models is in stark contrast to the one Thompson paints, of a company where women were punished and men's missteps were ignored. Thompson's now suing Daystar for "disparate treatment based on gender" and for defamation — she says she was one of the employees the Lambs painted as extortionists engaged in illegal activities, and her suit implies that what he described as extortion was actually legitimate legal action by employees who felt impacted by his office affair. Thompson filed suit in Dallas federal court Monday — she's seeking lost wages as well as punitive damages, and asking for a jury trial. Perhaps relatedly, Daystar is currently downsizing — two of its facilities will stop operating as production studios and lay off staff. The network told the AP the scandal hadn't shrunk its audience — but donations are down 7% from last year. We'll see what happens if Thompson wins her suit.
Not The Devil's Work: Ex-Employee Accuses Christian Broadcaster Daystar Of Defamation [Dallas Observer]
Christian TV Network Daystar To Downsize [AP]
Daystar Founders Marcus And Joni Lamb Discuss Infidelity, Alleged Extortion Plot On 'Good Morning America' [Dallas Morning News]