T.J. Simers, a well-known former sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is suing the Times for age and disability discrimination. We’re providing regular coverage of the jury trial, which is expected to last about three more weeks. For the background on what the case is all about, go here. For the testimony of Mr. Simers’ psychiatrist last week, go here. For a roundup of all of last week’s trial testimony (pretty interesting), go here.
T.J. Simers was in the hot seat for most of this week, being cross-examined by the attorneys for his former employer, the Los Angeles Times. News coverage of the trial has been a little sparse, but here’s what I’ve got:
Mr. Simers admitted that his bosses had discussed the tone, content, and grammar of his articles well before his mini-stroke and the allegedly-bogus “ethical issue” related to his video with then-Lakers star Dwight Howard. “I would say God bless all the copy editors we pay money to to review my columns,” he was quoted as saying. However, he said that he didn’t take his bosses’ comments about his tone as “criticisms.”
(Interesting, since the Times’s psychological expert testified last week that Mr. Simers’ MMPI score indicated that he was paranoid and overly sensitive to criticism. Anyway . . .)
Mr. Simers admitted that the newspaper’s top editor, Davan Maharaj, had never made negative comments about his age or health but that after the mini-stroke managing editor Marc Duvoisin said the Times would “take it easy” on Mr. Simers by allowing him to have time off without having to use his vacation, and would limit his workload until he felt better. Mr. Simers admitted that these statements were “probably not disparaging or offensive.”
(“Probably”? I think those statements sound great – for the Times, that is.)
He also said that he did not think he had ever been excluded from an event or opportunity because of his age.
Last week, Mr. Simers admitted that he was not fired and that the Times executives asked him to stay. But according to one news report, he would have been required to accept a demotion (which we already knew) and admit that he had committed an ethical violation in connection with the Howard video.
One other tidbit that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before: Mr. Simers is seeking $18 million.
As you know, I’ve been back and forth on this case as the evidence has unfolded. But right now, I’m thinking, “Can you please remind me why the Times didn’t win summary judgment?”
Please feel free to give us your two cents in the comments. And don’t go away!