Arbitrator Sets Deadline for Rehire, Back Pay for Fired 'Inky' Columnist

By: E&P Staff The Philadelphia Inquirer has two weeks to rehire fired sports columnist Stephen A. Smith, who is also entitled to "a six-figure sum in back pay," Journal-ism's media writer Richard Prince reported Friday.

In an account posted on the Web site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, Prince writes that arbitrator Richard R. Kasher this Tuesday issued an award in the case of Smith's firing.

Smith was taken off the sports column he had written for 13 years, with a months-long interruption while he was an ESPN radio host. He argued that when he returned to the newspaper to write column under terms negotiated during his radio work, the column was taken away and Smith was fired for refusing to work as a general assignment sports reporter.

In late August, the arbitrator ruled that the Inquirer violated its contract with the Newspaper Guild, and ordered the two sides to negotiate appropriate terms for Smith's return, back pay or other compensation.

Prince reported that it "could not be determined" if arbitrator's latest action means the Inquirer was ordered to take back as a columnist or in some other capacity.

Michael Lorenca, the Inquirer's vice president for human resources, did not immediately return a voice mail message seeking comment.


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