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Jury awards $7 million in Los Angeles Times age discrimination case

The Los Angeles Times building. (Photo: Flickr / LA Wad)
The Los Angeles Times building. (Photo: Flickr / LA Wad)

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Wednesday ruled that the newspaper committed an act of discrimination when the newspaper fired a sports columnist in March 2013.

T. J. Simers, 65, sued the newspaper shortly after his dismissal, alleging that the newspaper overly criticized his work and reduced his job roles and responsibilities following a health impairment several years ago.

The discrimination peaked in March 2013 when Simers said he was forced out of his $234,000-a-year job at the metropolitan daily. Before that, Simers said Times editors overly criticized his work and reduced his job role to that of a blogger, cutting his five-day-a-week column to a mere three days in the process.

During the six week trial, the Times and its parent company Tribune Publishing disputed this, saying Simers had used his role as a columnist with the paper to bolster personal projects on the side, something the newspaper said was a violation of its ethical standards.

But a jury disagreed with the paper, finding in favor of Simers after two days of deliberations and ordering the Times to pay $7.1 million for their discriminatory acts. The foreman of the jury, Orie McLemore, told a newspaper reporter covering the trial that the jury felt that the company “didn’t deal with Mr. Simers in a proper manner.”

“How can you take someone who’s been doing that well, and then all of a sudden he’s not up to par?” McLemore questioned. “I have got to feel there’s something there.”

Jurors awarded Simers $330,000 for lost wages, $1.8 million for economic damages and a further $5 million for emotional suffering, the Times reported in a story on its own lawsuit.

A Times company spokesperson said the paper plans to appeal the verdict.

Simers, now a columnist at the Orange County Register, worked at the Times when it was owned by the Tribune Company. The newspaper is now a part of Tribune Publishing, the print company that separated from Tribune’s broadcast properties in 2014.

Los Angeles Times: Ex-employee gets $7.1 million payday after jury finds discrimination
Variety: Jury finds in favor of former Times sports columnist in ageism case

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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