A Los Angeles jury awarded $7.13 million on Wednesday to former Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, who contended the newspaper discriminated against him and forced him out of his $234,000-a-year job after he suffered a mini-stroke in March 2013.
He was represented by Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, who describes the case, tried over the last two months in Los Angeles Superior Court, as a distinct example of age and disability discrimination. The jury reached its decision on all counts, finding in favor of Simers.
Simers worked for the Times for 23 years – the last 13 of which as a featured “Page Two” columnist. Simers, who suffers from complex migraine syndrome and in 2013 collapsed from what was then diagnosed as a mini-stroke, continued to produce his popular column despite his health concerns, which were communicated to the Times. After the onset of these health issues, Simers’ support from management dwindled and his column was reduced and Simers suspended.
While the Times provided no clarity during an investigation that suddenly arose concerning Simers after his health problems, the evidence revealed that Simers was targeted for a false policy violation in an attempt to force him out of his position in favor of younger, lower salaried employees. Ultimately, Simers was forced to resign.
“We are gratified that the jury saw the truth and vindicated our client, legendary Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, on his claims for age and disability discrimination, including for wrongful constructive termination,” said Shegerian. “The award of just over $7.1 million ends a loss of career odyssey suffered by Mr. Simers in 2013. This battle was long and hard for Mr. Simers and his wonderful family. Our client was falsely labeled by the Times’ defense attorney during trial as an egotistical and self-centered man who put his interests ahead of that of the readers. This description couldn’t have been farther from the truth of who Mr. Simers actually is – a great columnist who received 22 years of amazing accolades from the Times over the years. After Mr. Simers suffered a life threatening disability illness, the Times cut short his 40-year wonderful career and financial stability.”
Shortly before he left the Times under duress, Simers had been told by the newspaper that there were “concerns” about his reporting and interviewing style. Simers claims that across two decades, he had never been warned of such complaints. On the contrary, and to demonstrate how well received Simers’ work had been in the sports community, Shegerian assembled a number of high profile sports personalities to testify on Simers’ behalf, including Tommy Lasorda and Garrett Anderson.
Shegerian, who was named Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2013, has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He has won 73 jury trials, including 31 seven figure verdicts representing employees.
Located Santa Monica, Shegerian & Associates is a law firm specializing in protecting the rights of employees who have been wronged by their employers. Richly experienced in labor and employment law and possessing an unparalleled success record as litigators (Carney Shegerian, Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner for 2013, has won 73 jury trials in his career, including 31 seven figure verdicts), Shegerian & Associates is passionately dedicated to serving the needs of its clients. For more information about the firm, visit Shegerian Law.