The “all in good fun” argument didn’t pan out for Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler, the “Regular Guys” on WKLS-FM 96 Rock morning radio show.
A pair of morning DJs at a competing station—Juan Tapia and Jose Carias of “Yogi y Panda por la Manana” on WWVA-FM Viva 105.7—alleged that the Regular Guys made offensive on-air comments about their sexual orientation and race. The station’s owner, Clear Channel, subsequently fired the Regular Guys.
The tipping point for Tapia and Carias: The Regular Guys audio-taped the two DJs using the company restroom, then played the recording on the Regular Guys show. Tapia and Carias responded by filing suit for invasion of privacy and harassment. The Regular Guys called the incident a “humorous prank,” and they argued that their on-air remarks about Tapia and Carias were protected by Clear Channel policy and the First Amendment. The courts have yet to weigh in.
Bottom line: Even when said in jest, sexually or racially offensive comments in the workplace rarely have a humorous outcome.