A long-running legal battle between the Los Angeles times and one of its sports writers concluded recently when a jury in Los Angeles was awarded more than $15 million in damages for age discrimination and disability discrimination. The claim was first filed six years ago, according to The Washington Post.
Plaintiff, a sports reporter for the Times, suffered a small stroke while covering a spring training in Arizona. He was also later diagnosed with chronic migraines. After this, the newspaper slashed his three-times-a-week column down to two. The reasoning given by the newspaper was that the columns were not well-written and resulted in a poor reflection on the newspaper. The columns he did produce were subsequently more heavily scrutinized than ever.
A few months later, he was suspended, demoted to reporter and resigned – all over a video surfaced that the Times asserted showed a conflict of interest. Plaintiff argued he never had a business relationship with the producer. Plaintiff then went to work for a competitor newspaper before filing his lawsuit, alleging he’d been the victim of workplace age discrimination and disability discrimination.
Second Trial More Than Doubles Age Discrimination Damage Award
Now 69, plaintiff is retired. This was the second trial. In the first, jurors awarded him $7.1 million in damages. Both sides appealed – plaintiff because it was less than the $12 million for which he’d asked. The trial court voided the judgement, but an appellate court reinstated the verdict, but remanded the damages portion for retrial. This time, jurors more than doubled the damage award to $15.1 million. An age discrimination lawyer noted when all is said and done, the newspaper may owe the plaintiff some $22 million in interest and attorney’s fees. The newspaper is reportedly considering an appeal, saying the damage award was unreasonable.
Plaintiff earned nearly $235,000 annually by the time he resigned the newspaper, at which he’d worked for nearly 25 years. He’d been a sports columnist for more than 10 years.
Age Discrimination Lawsuits in Los Angeles
Age discrimination is when a job applicant or employee over 40 is treated less favorably because of their age. California employers are barred from discriminating against someone on the basis of older age.
However, as our Los Angeles age discrimination attorneys know, common as these cases are, they can be tough to prove. Some examples include:
- Declining to hire workers who are older, even if they are equally or more qualified than younger candidates.
- Passing over older workers for promotions or job perks because of their age.
- Terminating an employee because of their age.
- Workplace harassment of workers that is frequent, severe and based on the worker’s age.
California workers are shielded from age discrimination claims primarily by two laws: The U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Both provisions apply to companies and workers in California, but their scope of protections varies. ADEA, for example, is only applicable to companies with at least 20 employees. FEHA applies to companies that employ five or more workers.
The intent of both laws is basically the same, but employers are generally held to the most stringent standard of the two. FEHA tends to be more protective of workers than the federal law when it comes to protecting older workers.
If you believe you have been discriminated against at work due to being older, we can help examine your claim to determine if you’ve got a case.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Former L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers awarded nearly $15.5 million in bias lawsuit, Aug. 19, 2019, MarketWatch