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Former Web managers sue Santa Rosa paper

Two women who formerly managed Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s Web site are suing the newspaper, alleging sex discrimination, harassment and other workplace violations. According to a report in the PD, Leigh Behrens, who was online director at pressdemocrat.com for almost two years, and Laurie Barton, the site’s executive producer, said they were targeted by jealous managers from the print side of the newspaper owned by The New York Times Co.

According to the lawsuit, Behrens’ detractors “appeared clearly upset that this strong and successful female leader was being recognized for her accomplishments in developing the online side of the business, while they were stuck in the print side of the operation, which was suffering from declining readership and revenues.”

The lawsuit said Behrens, who joined the PD in 2006 after a career at the Chicago Tribune, was fired in February 2008. The suit also said Barton, who had previously worked for the LA Times and Orange County Register before joining the PD in 2007, took a pregnancy leave in December 2008 and decided not to return because of a “harassing environment” at the paper, the suit claims.

The PD reporter who wrote the story about the suit, Steve Hart, was directed to call NYT corporate communications senior vice president Catherine Mathis for a comment , but she didn’t return his call.

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