Chicago anchor sues Telemundo over firing

Edna Schmidt

Edna Schmidt

Edna Schmidt, who was a top news anchor at two Spanish-language stations in Chicago, is suing one of them for firing her when she appeared drunk on the air.

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week claims Telemundo Station Group’s WSNS-Channel 44 and parent company NBC Universal violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide Schmidt “reasonable accommodation” for her alcoholism.

After two months on the job, Schmidt was suspended as co-anchor of “Noticiero Telemundo Chicago” when she showed up intoxicated on the 10 p.m. newscast September 30, 2013. Within weeks, her suspension turned into termination from her $200,000-a-year position. Management at the time said only that Schmidt was no longer with the station, adding: “We wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Seeking unspecified damages for wrongful termination, Schmidt’s lawsuit alleges that her bosses made no attempt to get her treatment.

Chris McDonnell, president and general manager of Telemundo Chicago, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.

Schmidt’s legal action last week coincided with the airing of a five-part November sweeps series on her struggles with alcoholism on Univision WGBO-Channel 66. Schmidt was a top news anchor for “Noticias Univision Chicago” from 1995 until she was promoted to Univision Network News correspondent and anchor in 2000.

“The series is to raise awareness about the subject of alcoholism,” Teri Arvesu, news director of Univision Chicago, said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity to empower women who are going through this and motivate their rehabilitation.”