LA Times sued

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Pulitzer winner charges age discrimination

Pulitzer-Prize winning Jeff Gottlieb filed a lawsuit against the LA Times and Editor Davan Maharaj on claims of age discrimination under federal and state laws. The lawsuit stipulates there are up to 100 yet-to-be-named defendants, though you can guess from the lawsuit who will likely be named.

The complaint focuses on how Jeff was treated after winning numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for the City of Bell corruption stories he co-wrote with Ruben Vives. The complaint focuses on how the money from various awards were distributed and how a one-foot crystal award was damaged by careless handling.

Ruben and Jeff initially received $5,000 each of the $35,000 Selden Ring Award that was meant for reporters and editors that worked on the Bell stories, the lawsuit claims. Other reporters received smaller amounts, but the editors decided the rest of the money would go toward a party at a restaurant owned by a relative of Davan’s to improve morale, according to the lawsuit.

But after 2.5 years, the party still hadn’t been thrown. At one point, Jeff was told that the Times would keep the money. A couple years later, Ruben and Jeff each received $1,500 more for the Selden Ring Award, but apparently Jeff and Davan were no longer on speaking terms, according to the lawsuit. The suit also alleges that a financial accounting of the original $35,000 award was never provided.

Also in the complaint: While Jeff was on leave for prostate cancer surgery, he was asked to cover stories. When he came back, the lawsuit claims, Jeff felt he was asked to cover beats below his experience level. The religion beat he was asked to cover apparently was never filled, the lawsuit claims. When Jeff refused to write obituaries, he was asked to take the 8 a.m. web shift to write about traffic incidents and breaking news, which he considered a demotion, according to the lawsuit. It was at that point that Jeff quit, which was before the December 2015 buyouts.

Here are some other complaint items from the lawsuit, though some are targeted at former editor Russ Stanton:

  • Jeff Gottlieb had to pay for airline tickets out of pocket so his wife could attend the Pulitzer ceremony after being promised she would be covered.
  • Davan blocked a proposed ceremony by the state to honor Jeff and Ruben.
  • Jeff was refused compensation for home office expenses.
  • Jeff asked for his personnel files from LAT three times, but was denied.