I'm not sure if this is for real, but if it is... Damn!
by Chris McDavid
Johnson County Bureau
PAINTSVILLE — The company that owns The Paintsville Herald and Appalachian News-Express, in Pikeville, has been sued in federal court in Arkansas by a former Pikeville man who accuses the company of setting bizarre employment requirements.
Marty Backus Jr., whose father Marty Sr. is publisher of the Pikeville paper and the immediate past president of the Kentucky Press Association, has sued his former bosses, Lancaster Newspapers Inc. of Gadsden, Alabama, in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Backus claims in his suit that Lancaster management issued him a two-page letter in 1996 that advised him he was “on probation” with the company. The letter also directed Backus, who was publisher of Mena and Waldron (Arkansas) newspapers, to “attend church weekly” and “have dinner as a family at least five times a week” as conditions for continued employment.
Backus said he was summoned to corporate headquarters in Gadsden after he and his wife began experiencing marital problems. He alleges in his suit that he was “reprimanded and told by agents and representatives of (the Lancasters) that they would not employ a publisher that had marital problems and did not attend church.” Backus further contends that he was given the letter setting out his job requirements and was told that he and his wife must “follow the letter completely...or lose his job.”
The directive from corporate headquarters prohibited Backus from “alcohol of any kind” and ordered him and his wife to “go to bed with each other every night without fail.” In addition, Backus claims in his suit that Lancaster officials ordered him and his wife to begin and end each day with an out-loud prayer. The letter ends with the statement, “You must comply completely.”
Backus claims in his suit that the Lancasters “began to question (Backus’) faith in God and loyalty to the company” in 2000. He was fired last year, after working for the Alabama company for nearly 21 years.
In 2001, Backus and his wife separated and later reconciled. He claims that the Lancasters told him at that time that he could purchase $750,000 worth of company stock in Waldron Newspapers or be fired because he did not “reflect the image of a Christian family.”
Backus seeks unspecified damages.
The Lancaster company had not formally responded to the suit as of Tuesday, Backus’ attorney, Joe Byars Jr. said from his Fort Smith office. Byars said he had advised his client not to speak with the media about the case.
Robert Neeley, publisher of The Paintsville Herald, one of four Lancaster newspapers in Kentucky, said Monday that he had not heard about the federal lawsuit.
Michael Schuver, an officer of Lancaster Newspapers, did not return a telephone call Tuesday seeking the company’s response to Backus’ allegations.
Note: A civil suit complaint lists on the plaintiff’s cause of action.
"As every one knows, there are mistakes in the Bible" - The Watchtower, April 15, 1928, p. 126
Believe in yourself, not mythology.