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Tennessee reporter sues over firing after story on lawmakers

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/30/2017

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A National Public Radio affiliate reporter has sued over her firing after she covered meetings between high schoolers and legislators who said she secretly recorded them discussing LGBT issues.

The Times Free Press reports Thursday (http://bit.ly/2nkHdPu ) WUTC-FM reporter Jacqui Helbert sued University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which licenses the station.

The Hamilton County Circuit Court lawsuit claims she was fired because lawmakers threatened retaliation against UTC.

It claims she accurately reported Sen. Mike Bell's inflammatory words and truthful, unpopular words by Rep. Kevin Brooks.

UTC says Helbert was fired because her story didn't treat lawmakers equally and she didn't identify herself as a reporter.

The lawsuit says she wore press credentials and carried equipment.

It requests Helbert's job back and damages up to $1 million.

UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell declined to comment.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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