Former newspaper employee sues Journal Register Co. for age discrimination

By Jon Campisi | Nov 4, 2011

A 69-year old former newspaper advertising manager, who was fired from her job of four years for reasons she contends were age-related, has filed a federal lawsuit against the newspaper’s parent company.

Blue Bell, Pa. attorney Andrew S. Abramson, of Abramson Employment Law, LLC, filed the discrimination complaint Nov. 2 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Joan Childs of Coatesville, Pa.

The defendant named in the lawsuit is the Journal Register Company, which operates community newspapers and websites in 10 states, including the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., the paper with which Childs was employed.

According to the complaint, Childs, who earned $56,000 annually plus commission and employment benefits, was laid off from her sales and advertising position this spring for what she was told was a need for the company to reduce its workforce as a “cost cutting measure.”

Childs was the only one out of a total of four retail-advertising managers who was laid off, the suit claims.

Childs’ termination came five months after Journal Register Co. CEO John Paton gave a presentation at a news summit in Massachusetts in which he reportedly referred to the “aging” and graying “managerial cadre that is cynically calculating how much they DON’T have to change before they get across the early-retirement goal line,” the lawsuit claims. “Look at the gray heads at any newspaper and you see what I’m talking about.”

The complaint states that when Childs was terminated, other employees over age 60 were also let go and had their duties assumed by “substantially younger employees.”

Childs was eventually offered another, lower paying position in the company, the suit claims, but she was passed over for another person who supposedly had more experience in that particular job.

Through her lawsuit, Childs claims the real reason she was let go was that she was one of the older workforce members referred to by company heads who allegedly wanted to rid this age bracket from the ranks.

“In terminating Plaintiff Childs and continuing to employ other significantly younger individuals to perform Plaintiff’s duties, Defendant JRC has discriminated against Plaintiff based upon her age,” the lawsuit states. “The reasons proffered by Defendant JRC for the termination of Plaintiff Child’s employment are pretextual. Defendant had a discriminatory motive based upon Plaintiff’s age.”

The lawsuit accuses the defendant of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

There is also a retaliation charge related to the earlier complaints Childs had filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Childs seeks declaratory judgment as well as damages exceeding $150,000, plus back pay, front pay, attorney’s fees and other court relief.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-06859-LS.

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