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Monday, January 24, 2022

Fired KARE-TV meteorologist Sven Sundgaard gets new job at MPR News

Former KARE-TV meteorologist Sven Sundgaard has landed a new job at Minnesota Public Radio News in St. Paul.

Monday Afternoon Morning Special host Katie Wurzer tweeted congratulations to Sundgaard and said he’d be joining her on the air from Tuesday: “I’m a long time fan of Sven. Join us every morning at 7:50. Sundgaard will also write for the weather blog MPR News Updraft. His first post was published on Monday.

KARE fired Sundgaard, who is gay, in May 2020. A Facebook post from the station at the time read: “Due to ongoing violations of news ethics and other KARE 11 policies, we have made the decision to part ways with Sven Sundgaard.”

Last April, Sundgaard filed a lawsuit in US District Court against KARE and its parent company Tegna, alleging discrimination based on his sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The lawsuit includes additional claims of a hostile work environment, defamation, and violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

At the time, KARE responded with a statement: “One of our core values ​​as a station is inclusiveness. We are committed to maintaining a respectful workplace environment free of all forms of discrimination and harassment.”

When Sundgaard appeared on the cover of local LGBT magazine Lavender in 2007, he said that then news director Tom Lindner was furious and asked Sundgaard, “What will people think?” Sundgaard said the HR department did not respond to his complaint. According to Sundgaard, after he converted to Judaism, news director Jane Helmke asked “does he still believe Jesus was the Messiah”. Sundgaard called the comment “aggressive” and said he felt uncomfortable and didn’t know how to react.

The lawsuit also details an early 2011 incident in which Lindner allegedly sent Sundgaard “a hostile email about a promotional photo shoot Sundgaard did copying many colleagues.” An open-air meeting with Lindner ended with the director of news yelling, “Get (expletive) out of my office,” according to Sundgaard, who said the report to HR again went nowhere.

Sundgaard claims that in 2017, management did not allow him to speak as a speaker at the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Journalists conference or spend time with his mother, who was being treated for advanced cancer, on her birthday. Sundgaard claims he told the news director that he was going to discuss the matter with Tegna and was told it was the network’s decision, not a corporate decision. Soon after, Sundgaard said that Tegna gave him a warning for insubordination and unacceptable behavior.

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In November 2017, Sundgaard stated that management had issued a written warning about his “short-sightedness” for a “sexually loaded” comment he made during a news release when he said “I think size does matter” in response to the news that that Minnesota or Wisconsin had more lakes.

According to the lawsuit, Sundgaard reported “similar instances of differential treatment based in part on his sexual orientation and previous reports of discrimination or harassment. No matter how much he reported, the hostility and differential treatment continued.”

Sundgaard is suing for unpaid wages from the day he was fired and up to $25,000 in punitive damages. According to federal court records, the lawsuit is still pending.

Shortly before his firing, Sundgaard used Facebook to post a comment by Minneapolis Rabbi Michael Adam Lutz, in which he criticized those protesting the coronavirus-induced public health restrictions in the U.S. and compared them to “white nationalist, Nazi sympathizers, gunsmith fetishists.” .

Right-wing website Alpha News reported Sundgaard’s repost, drawing criticism from former congressman and media personality Jason Lewis, who tweeted: “Forecast today: Mostly sunny with a chance of being idiotic… #Covid_19 models are about as accurate as his predictions. @kare11 should fire him!”

News of Sundgaard’s departure made national headlines, including reports from Fox News and the New York Daily News. Locally, social media has mostly supported Sundgaard, who was born in St. Paul, grew up in Cottage Grove, and has worked at KARE since 2006.

In August 2020, Sundgaard began producing forecasts for local news site Bringmethenews.com. The site owner has confirmed that Sundgaard will continue to contribute to Bring Me The News. Sundgaard also posts regularly on YouTube.

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