News Anchor Given 6 Months’ House Arrest for Workplace Privacy Violations

Larry Mendte, former Philadelphia news anchor, was sentenced today in federal court after pleading guilty to reading the emails of his former co-anchor, Alycia Lane, and forwarding the information along to reporters, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.   Mendte was sentenced to three years of probation, a $5,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service.

Mendte, who apologized for his conduct, admitted that he accessed Lane’s personal email on more than 500 occasions.  He stated that he was motivated by a “flirtatious, unprofessional, and improper” relationship he’d had with Lane.  Lane was present in the courtroom but did not speak on her own behalf. Lane and Mendte: Delaware Employment Law

For the salacious details of this unusual workplace drama, see our earlier posts:

More Drama at the News Desk: Co-Anchor Suspected of Snooping Through E-Mails
Employee Embarrasses Employer, Who Fires Employee, Who Sues Employer
Prying Eyes: What is “Private” Becomes Even Fuzzier for Employees Who Snoop
ABA Journal Takes Note of Our Newsworthy News Anchors
TV News Anchors’ Soap Opera Has the Makings of a Made-for-TV Drama
The Mendte-Lane Saga Concludes With a Guilty Plea and a Lawsuit

 

And what, if anything, can be learned from this latest chapter? Here’s what I would offer as the Lessons to Be Learned from the Love-Hate Saga of Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane:

 

  1. Anti-fraternization policies may get some good publicity from this case.  The “flirtatious” relationship between the two co-anchors seems to be, according to Mendte, what sparked his bizarre conduct.
  2. Be careful not to disregard the claims of the co-anchor who cried wolf.  Despite Lane’s prior allegations regarding Mendte’s alleged snooping, her employer was not inclined to believe her, probably because she’d previously volunteered for the spotlight by appearing on the Dr. Phil show, and other unusually public conduct.  This goes to show that, when receiving a complaint from an employee, not to carry our own biases and preconceived beliefs into the investigation.  Go figure–she might actually be telling the truth!
  3. Privacy is a big deal.  It’s a big enough deal that his violation of it landed a very popular local public figure into very hot legal water.  As Mendte is reported to have opined during his sentencing hearing: “When I look back on the story of my life, I can’t believe it brought me to this moment. I am ashamed.”
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