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First Amended Complaint – T.J. Simers Case LA Times

March 31, 2016


Carney R. Shegerian, Esq., State Bar No. 150461 CShegerian@Shegerianlaw.com SHEGERIAN & ASSOCIATES, INC. 225 Arizona Avenue, Suite 400 Santa Monica, California 90401 Telephone Number: (310) 860‑0770 Facsimile Number:  (310) 860‑0771 Attorneys for plaintiff, T.J. SIMERS SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, CENTRAL DISTRICT T. J. SIMERS, Plaintiff, vs. TRIBUNE COMPANY, TRIBUNE INTERACTIVE, TRIBUNE MEDIA NET, INC., LOS ANGELES TIMES COMMUNICATIONS, LLC, LOS ANGELES TIMES. MARC DUVOISIN, DAVAN MAHARAJ, and DOES 1 to 100, inclusive, Defendants. Case No.:  BC 524 471 [Assigned to the Honorable Susan Bryant-Deason; Dept. 52] PLAINTIFF T.J. SIMERS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR: (1)     DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF AGE IN VIOLATION OF FEHA; (2)     RETALIATION FOR COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF AGE IN VIOLATION OF FEHA; (3)     DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY IN VIOLATION OF FEHA; (4)     HARASSMENT ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY/AGE IN VIOLATION OF FEHA; (5)          RETALIATION FOR TAKING CFRA LEAVE; (6)     WRONGFUL TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT IN VIOLATION OF PUBLIC POLICY; (7)     BREACH OF IMPLIED-IN-FACT CONTRACT NOT TO TERMINATE EMPLOYMENT WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE; (8)     BREACH OF COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL Plaintiff, T.J. Simers, alleges: PARTIES 1.       Plaintiff, T.J. Simers (“plaintiff” or “Simers”), was at all times mentioned in this Complaint employed in Los Angeles County, California. 2.       Defendant Tribune Company (“defendant” or “Tribune Company”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint was, authorized to operate by the State of California and the United States government and authorized and qualified to do business in the County of Los Angeles.  At all times known to plaintiff, Tribune Company’s principal place of business was in the County of Los Angeles. 3.       Defendant Tribune Interactive (“defendant” or “Tribune Interactive”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint was, authorized to operate by the State of California and the United States government and authorized and qualified to do business in the County of Los Angeles.  At all times known to plaintiff, Tribune Interactive’s principal place of business was in the County of Los Angeles. 4.       Defendant Tribune Media Net, Inc. (“defendant” or “Tribune Media”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint was, authorized to operate by the State of California and the United States government and authorized and qualified to do business in the County of Los Angeles.  At all times known to plaintiff, Tribune Media’s principal place of business was in the County of Los Angeles. 5.       Defendant Los Angeles Times (“defendant” or “Times”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint was, authorized to operate by the State of California and the United States government and authorized and qualified to do business in the County of Los Angeles.  The Times’s place of business, where the following causes of action took place, was and is in the County of Los Angeles, at 202 West First Street, Los Angeles, California 90012. 6.       Defendant Marc Duvoisin (“Duvoisin”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint, was, employed by Times and was plaintiff’s supervisor.  At all times known to plaintiff, defendant Duvoisin was a resident of Los Angeles County. 7.       Defendant Davan Maharaj (“Maharaj”) is, and at all times mentioned in this Complaint, was, employed by Times and was plaintiff’s supervisor.  At all times known to plaintiff, defendant Maharaj was a resident of Los Angeles County. 8.       Defendants Does 1 through 100 are sued under fictitious names pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 474.  Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that each of the defendants sued under fictitious names is in some manner respon­sible for the wrongs and damages alleged below, in so acting was functioning as the agent, servant, partner, and employee of the co-defendants, and in taking the actions mentioned below was acting within the course and scope of his or her authority as such agent, servant, partner, and employee, with the permission and consent of the co-defendants. 9.       Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and the Times both directly and indirectly employed plaintiff Simers, as defined under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) at Government Code section 12926(d).  At all relevant times mentioned herein, each of the entity defendants acted as the others’ agent.  At all relevant times alleged, all defendants acted as agents of all other defendants in committing the acts alleged herein. 10.       In addition, defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and the Times compelled, coerced, aided, and abetted the dis­crimination, which is prohibited under California Government Code section 12940(i). 11.       Finally, at all relevant times mentioned herein, all defendants acted as agents of all other defendants in committing the acts alleged herein. INTRODUCTORY ALLEGATIONS 12.       Plaintiff Simers, a 63-year-old man, was employed by defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, and the Times for 23 years, from 1990 through August 12, 2013.  For the last 13 years of his tenure, Simers was a “Page Two” sports columnist. His direct supervisor was Mike James.  At all times, plaintiff per­formed his job duties in an exemplary manner and earned awards and accolades for his work as a columnist. 13.       Plaintiff suffers from complex migraine syndrome, for which he is currently receiving treatment.  Plaintiff informed defendants of his medical condition after it was diagnosed, in 2013. 14.       On or around March 16, 2013, Simers collapsed while traveling for work in Arizona. Simers was originally diagnosed with a TIA stroke while in the hospital in Arizona. Later, Plaintiff was diagnosed with complex migraine syndrome by his neurologist as a possible contributing factor to his collapse in March. 15.       Simers informed defendants when he collapsed on the job in March. Defendant Duvoisin sent Simers an email comparing Simers health condition to that of Duvoisin’s father. 16.       Despite his health condition, Simers performance at work continued to be exemplary. Simers was even told that his articles were “as vigorous and entertaining as ever,” by defendant Marc Duvoisin on or around April 4, 2013. Simers wanted to continue planned to continue writing just as he had before March 2013. 17.       In May of 2013, defendants suddenly told Simers there was a “public behavior problem” concerning his interview techniques based on a YouTube interview he did with a UCLA foot­ball coach six months earlier on November 24, 2012. This was the first Simers heard of an alleged “public behavior problem.” 18.       Also in May of 2013, defendants, through their managers and supervisors, reduced the number of columns plaintiff Simers wrote. Until then, plaintiff had three columns in the Times’ print edition, and often more. Simers was told the reason his columns were reduced was because defendants wanted him “to go easy” and to “take it easy”. However, Simers continued to express to defendants he was able and willing to continue writing despite his mental and physical health conditions 19.       On May 28, 2013, Simers was called to a meeting with sports editor, Mike James, to discuss concerns regarding his column.  This was the first time Simers heard of any serious complaint or concern about his column or his interviewing techniques from defendants. In the meeting, plaintiff was subsequently informed he would be writing one less column and the decision was coming from management. 20.       On May 29, 2013, Simers called a meeting with defendant Duvoisin to discuss the concerns regarding Simers’s column. This was the first time Simers’s spoke at length with defendant Duvoisin regarding Simers’ column during Simers’ tenure at the Times. Defendant Duvoisin expressed serious concerns and criticism to Simers about plaintiff’s column written about the owner of the Anaheim Angels’ owner, Mr. Moreno, two weeks earlier. The Anaheim Angels advertises on the Times’ website. Plaintiff believes that defendant Duvoisin’s criticisms were a pretext to influence and impact Plaintiff’s employment from the Anaheim Angel’s organization because Simers was a respected, established older employee at the Times who would not be swayed by outside influence. 21.       On June 24, 2013, in an USA Today article, Mr. Moreno made comments on Simers’s column that were almost identical to what defendant Duvoisin told Simers in the May 29th meeting. Plaintiff believes that his employment was heavily influenced and impacted by outside parties within the Anaheim Angels organization, and was being forced out for younger employees who would be more willing to be influenced by outside parties. 22.       Further, in the May 29, 2013 meeting, Defendant Duvoisin told plaintiff writing three columns was “too much” work load for plaintiff to do, and to take as much as needed to recover from his March illness which would not be counted as sick or vacation time. Plaintiff took one additional week off on defendant’s advice. However, Plaintiff was adamant he could and had always written three columns and often more. 23.       Plaintiff organized a video of his daughter teaching former Los Angeles Laker Dwight Howard how to shoot a basketball. Plaintiff got permission from the Times’ and his supervisors for the video; the Times even sent a photographer and videographer to the video shoot. Simers interviewed Howard in the video, which plaintiff had approved by his superiors.    The interview ran on the Internet only once, at 5:30 a.m. on June 3, 2013, and then was taken off line because part of the video’s formatting was a problem with the Times. 24.       Plaintiff Simers has an entertainment agent and has written script ideas for prospective television shows and films.  Defendants were aware that Simers had an agent and had written and tried to sell TV scripts, and never reprimanded or criticized Simers for having an entertainment agent until the Dwight Howard video in 2013 after Simers collapsed in March. 25.       A third party, who Plaintiff has no relationship or connection to, made a comment in an article that there was a television show based on plaintiff Simers’ life; however Simers never developed a television show and did not sell any project in his entire tenure at the times. Nonetheless, defendants Duvoisin and Maharaj questioned Simers about the use of the Dwight Howard video to promote a TV show about Simers’ life.  Simers explained several times to defendants that there was no TV show.  Defendants informed Simers that they were going to investigate the matter. Plaintiff believes the investigation was a pretext in order to push out Simers for younger reporters. 26.       On June 14 2013, defendant Duvoisin informed Simers that his column would be taken out of the Times print and online editions to be put “on holiday” for ten days. 27.       While plaintiff’s column was taken out, plaintiff repeatedly expressed to defendants Duvoisin and Maharaj the negative impact on plaintiff’s health from the continuous stress of not knowing the status of his column. Most notably, in an email on July 12, 2013, plaintiff expressed to defendant Maharaj plaintiff’s “continued stress and concern of not knowing what is going on,” even though Defendants knew about Plaintiff’s health condition. Defendants did not acknowledge the negative impact on plaintiff’s health and continued to ignore Plaintiff’s complaints on the impact on his heath. 28.       From June 24 through July 2, 2013, plaintiff heard nothing about the investiga­tion.  Simers became increasingly stressed about the status of his column and the possi­bility of damage to his reputation and credibility. This stress continued to have a negative impact on his health condition. 29.       On July 24, 2013, plaintiff was told that there would be a meeting on July 25th with Paul Markgraf, director of Human Resources. In anticipation of the July 25th meeting, plaintiff cleaned out his desk believing he would be terminated at the meeting. 30.       At the meeting on July 25, 2013, plaintiff was informed the meeting was moved until July 30, 2013. 31.       On or around July 30, 2013, plaintiff Simers was called to a meeting concerning his col­umn with defendants Maharaj and Duvoisin, and with Paula Markgraf, as a neutral party. It was apparent to plaintiff Paula Markgraf was an advocate for Times, and not a neutral party. Plaintiff Simers was told that he had violated defendants’ ethics code and business code by allegedly pitching a script and the Howard video.  Plaintiff Simers has never seen or signed defendants’ ethics code and was never told developing independent ideas for projects would be a violation of the Times policies. 32.       On August 7, 2013, plaintiff Simers again met with defendants Maharaj and Duvoisin, who accused him of pitching a script, dated January 8, 2011, which they found on plaintiff’s email. The script was years old and the idea had been “dead” and “disappeared” to Plaintiff for years because there was no interest in it. Plaintiff had given up on the project years before the Dwight Howard video. Further, defendant Maharaj had admitted to Plaintiff that they knew there was no television show. 33.       In August of 2013, plaintiff Simers was sent a “Final Warning Notice,” al­though he had never received a prior written warning.  The notice listed purported ethics code violations, despite the fact Simers had never seen or signed any ethics code at the Times. 34.       On August 8, 2013, defendants demoted plaintiff Simers to general assignment reporter with full pay “for now.” A general assignment reporter is an entry-level position for a sports writer; Simers had been one of the most well-known writers at the Times for his 23 years with the Times 35.       On or around August 12, 203, plaintiff Simers sent a letter indicating to the Times his employment situation was so intolerable and detrimental to his health due to defendants’ treatment of him, that he was forced to leave his position. To this day, Simers has always wanted to work at the Times as a Pages 2 columnist. However, the impact to his health due to the intolerable working conditions forced him to leave his employment. 36.       On August 23, 2013, defendants offered to reinstate plaintiff as a columnist under contract for one year, with the option to terminate his contract at any time, with or without cause. 37.       In early September of 2013, plaintiff Simers wanted to meet with defendants Maharaj and Duvoisin in good faith to see if the working environment could improve and become more bearable for Simers to come back to the Times. The meeting was unsuccessful, and it was clear the work environment was still unbearable for plaintiff’s health. 38.       Plaintiff’s last print column for the Times was on June 3, 2013. 39.       Plaintiff Simers believes and alleges that defendants’ true reasons for terminat­ing his employment were his age, his disability, and his medical leave. FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION (Discrimination on the Basis of Age (Government Code § 12941)—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and Times) 40.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 39 are re-alleged and incorpo­rated herein by reference. 41.       At all times herein mentioned, FEHA, Government Code section 12941, was in full force and effect and was binding on defendants.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from discriminating against any employee because he or she is more than 40 years old.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”), in full compliance with admin­istrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 42.       During plaintiff Simers’s employment with defendants, defendants, through their supervisors, engaged in actions that had a negative impact on the treatment of employees who were more than 40 years old.  Specifically, defendants discharged older employees with greater frequency than younger employees, hired fewer employees who were older than 40, and gave better jobs and benefits to younger employees. 43.       During plaintiff’s employment with defendants, defendants intentionally en­gaged in age discrimination by discharging employees over the age of 40 with greater frequency than other employees.  During plaintiff’s employment with defendants, defendants had a pattern and practice of discriminating against employees who were more than 40 years old. 44.       Plaintiff Simers was a qualified employee at the time of the termination of his employment, and he was more than 40 years old. 45.       Defendants, through their managers and supervisors, made a number of com­ments to and about plaintiff Simers that exhibited ageist motivations, intentions, and consciousness.  Plaintiff believes and on that basis alleges that defendants’ real motiva­tion was to discharge him because of his age. 46.       On the basis of the above, plaintiff believes and alleges that his age was a sub­stantial motivating reason in defendants’ termination of his employment. 47.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional discrimi­nation against plaintiff, plaintiff has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses of earnings and other employment benefits. 48.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional discrimi­nation against plaintiff, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emo­tional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 49.       Defendants’ discrimination was done intentionally, in a malicious, oppressive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages. 50.       Plaintiff has incurred and continues to incur legal expenses and attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff is at present unaware of the precise amounts of these expenses and fees and will seek leave of court to amend this Complaint when the amounts are fully known. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION (Harassment on the Basis of Age and Disability (Government Code § 12940(j)(1), (j)(3))—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, Times, Duvoisin, and Maharaj) 51.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 50 are re-alleged and incorpo­rated herein by reference. 52.       At all times herein mentioned, FEHA, Government Code section 12940(j)(1) and 12940(j)(3), was in full force and effect and was binding on defendants.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from harassing any employee because he or she is more than 40 years old.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff filed a complaint with the DFEH, in full compliance with administrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 53.       Defendants engaged in actions to harass plaintiff because of his age.  Defen­dants directed numerous comments to plaintiff, as was stated above, shunned him in daily activities, refused to involve him in various projects, and took other actions direct­ed at plaintiff. 54.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional harass­ment, plaintiff has sustained damages in a sum according to proof. 55.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional harass­ment, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emotional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 56.       Defendants’ harassment of plaintiff was done intentionally, in a malicious, op­pressive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages. 57.       Plaintiff has incurred and continues to incur legal expenses and attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff is at present unaware of the precise amounts of these expenses and fees and will seek leave of court to amend this Complaint when the amounts are fully known. THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION (Retaliation for Complaining of Discrimination and Harassment on the Basis of Age (Government Code § 12940(h)—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and Times) 58.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 57 are re-alleged and incorpo­rated herein by reference. 59.     At all times herein mentioned, FEHA, Government Code section 12940(h), was in full force and effect and was binding on defendants.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from retaliating against employees for complaining of discrimination or harass­ment.  Prior to filing the instant Complaint, plaintiff Simers filed a timely administrative charge with the DFEH and received a right-to-sue notice. 60.     Plaintiff believes and on that basis alleges that his complaints about discrimina­tion and harassment because of his age were a substantial motivating reason in defen­dants’ termination of his employment. 61.     As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional retalia­tion against plaintiff, plaintiff has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses of earnings and other employment benefits. 62.     As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional retalia­tion against plaintiff, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emotional distress, and physical and mental pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 63.     Plaintiff has incurred and continues to incur legal expenses and attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff is at present unaware of the precise amounts of these expenses and fees and will seek leave of court to amend this Complaint when the amounts are fully known. 64.       Defendants’ misconduct was committed intentionally, in a malicious, despica­ble, oppressive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages against defendants. FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Discrimination on the Basis of Physical Disability (Government Code § 12940(a), (i), (m), (n))—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and Times) 65.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 64 are re-alleged and incorpo­rated herein by reference. 66.       At all times herein mentioned, FEHA, Government Code section 12940(a), (i), (m), and (n), was in full force and effect and was binding on defendants.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from discriminating against any employee on the basis of a physical disability.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff Simers filed a complaint with the DFEH, in full compliance with administrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 67.       Defendants terminated plaintiff’s employment in violation of FEHA’s prohibi­tion against discrimination on the basis of disability.  Had plaintiff not required time off to care for his medical condition, he would have retained his job for a substantially long­er time and obtained benefits that other employees who did not have physical disabilities did, in fact, receive. 68.       Plaintiff suffers from complex migraine syndrome, for which he is currently receiving treatment.  Plaintiff informed defendants of his medical condition after it was diagnosed, in March of 2013. 69.       Plaintiff believes and on that basis alleges that his disability was a substantial motivating reason in defendants’ termination of his employment. 70.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional discrimi­nation against plaintiff, plaintiff has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses of earnings and other employment benefits. 71.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional discrimi­nation against plaintiff, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emo­tional distress, and physical and mental pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 72.       Plaintiff has incurred and continues to incur legal expenses and attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff is at present unaware of the precise amounts of these expenses and fees and will seek leave of court to amend this Complaint when the amounts are fully known. 73.       Defendants’ misconduct was committed intentionally, in a malicious, despica­ble, oppressive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages against defendants. FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Retaliation for Taking CFRA Leave—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and Times) 74.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 73 are re-alleged and incorpo­rated herein by reference. 75.       At all times herein mentioned, the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”), Government Code section 12945.1 and 12945.2, which was in full force and effect and was binding on defendants.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from retaliating against any employee because he or she took protected medical leave.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff Simers filed a complaint with the DFEH, in full compliance with administrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 76.       During plaintiff’s employment with defendants, defendants, through their su­pervisors, engaged in actions that had a negative impact on the treatment of employees who took CFRA leave.  Specifically, defendants discharged such employees with greater frequency than other employees. 77.       Plaintiff suffers from complex migraine syndrome, for which he is currently receiving treatment.  Plaintiff informed defendants of his medical condition after it was diagnosed, in March of 2013. 78.       Defendant Duvoisin told plaintiff writing three columns was “too much” for plaintiff to do, and to take as much as needed to recover from his March illness which would not be counted as sick or vacation time. Plaintiff took one additional week off on defendant’s advice. However, Plaintiff was adamant he could and had always written three columns and often more. 79.       On the basis of the above, plaintiff believes and alleges that his CFRA leave was a substantial motivating reason in defendants’ termination of his employment. 80.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional retalia­tion, plaintiff has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses of earnings and other employment benefits. 81.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional retalia­tion, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emotional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 82.       Defendants’ misconduct was committed intentionally, in a malicious, oppres­sive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages. 83.       Plaintiff has incurred and continues to incur legal expenses and attorneys’ fees.  Plaintiff is at present unaware of the precise amounts of these expenses and fees and will seek leave of court to amend this Complaint when the amounts are fully known. /// SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Wrongful Termination of Employment in Violation of Public Policy—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications,  and Times) 84.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 83 are re-alleged and incor­porated herein by reference. 85.       At all times relevant herein, California has had a substantial and fundamental public policy as reflected in the CFRA.  This statute requires defendants to refrain from discriminating against any employee because he or she took protected medical leave.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff Simers filed a complaint with the DFEH, in full compliance with administrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 86.       In addition and in the alternative, all times relevant herein, California has had a substantial and fundamental public policy as reflected in, FEHA, Government Code section 12940, et seq., which requires defendants to refrain from discriminating against any employee because he or she is more than 40 years old and to refrain from discrimi­nating against any employee because of a physical disability.  Within the time provided by law, plaintiff Simers filed a complaint with the DFEH, in full compliance with administrative requirements, and received a right-to-sue letter. 87.       Plaintiff suffers from complex migraine syndrome, for which he is currently receiving treatment.  Plaintiff informed defendants of his medical condition after it was diagnosed, in March of 2013. 88.       Further, in the May 29, 2013 meeting, Defendant Duvoisin told plaintiff writing three columns was “too much” for plaintiff to do, and to take as much as needed to recover from his March illness which would not be counted as sick or vacation time. Plaintiff took one additional week off on defendant’s advice. However, Plaintiff was adamant he could and had always written three columns and often more. 89.       During plaintiff’s employment with defendants, defendants, through their su­pervisors, engaged in actions that had a negative impact on the treatment of employees who took CFRA leave.  Specifically, defendants discharged such employees with greater frequency than other employees. 90.        On June 14 2013, defendant Duvoisin informed Simers that his column would be taken out of the Times print and online editions to be put “on holiday” for ten days. 91.       From June 24 through July 2, 2013, plaintiff heard nothing about the investiga­tion.  Simers became increasingly stressed about the status of his column and the possi­bility of damage to his reputation and credibility. 92.       While plaintiff’s column was taken out, plaintiff repeatedly expressed to defendants Duvoisin and Maharaj the negative impact on plaintiff’s health from the continuous stress of not knowing the status of his column. Most notably, in an email on July 12, 2013, plaintiff expressed to defendant Maharaj plaintiff’s “continued stress and concern of not knowing what is going on.” Defendants did not acknowledge the negative impact on plaintiff’s health. 93.       Plaintiff Simers received his final paycheck and had his company phone turned off on September 9, 2013.  His last print column for the Times was on June 3, 2013. 94.       Defendants, through their managers and supervisors, made a number of com­ments to and about plaintiff Simers that exhibited discriminatory motivations, intentions, and consciousness.  Plaintiff believes and on that basis alleges that defendants’ real moti­vation was to discharge him because of his age, his disability, and/or his medical leave. 95.       Plaintiff Simers was a qualified employee at the time of the termination of his employment, he performed his job in an exemplary manner, and he very recently had taken leave for a serious medical condition.  The reasons defendants gave for firing plaintiff were patently false. 96.       On the basis of the above, plaintiff believes and alleges that his age, disability, and necessary leave for a serious medical condition were substantial motivating reasons for defendants’ termination of plaintiff’s employment. 97.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional miscon­duct, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, emotional distress, and mental and physical pain and anguish, all to his damage in a sum according to proof. 98.       As a result of defendants’ willful, knowing, and intentional misconduct, plain­tiff has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses of earnings and other employment benefits. 99.       Defendants’ wrongful termination of plaintiff’s employment was done inten­tionally, in a malicious, oppressive manner, entitling plaintiff to punitive damages. SEVENTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Breach of Implied-In-Fact Contract Not to Terminate Employment Without Good Cause—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications, and Times) 100.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 99 are re-alleged and incor­porated herein by reference. 101.       On the basis of oral assurances of continued employed given to plaintiff by defendants, the length of plaintiff’s employment with defendants, defendants’ actual practice of terminating employment only for cause, and the industry standard for the business defendants engaged in of terminating employment only for cause, plaintiff and defendants shared the actual understanding that plaintiff’s employment could and would be terminated only for cause.  This shared understanding resulted in an implied contract requiring that defendants have good cause to terminate plaintiff’s employment.  This resulted in an implied in fact contract that resulted in plaintiff’s employment’s not being at will. 102.       Defendants and their managers and supervisors terminated plaintiff’s employ­ment without good cause, violating the implied- in-fact contract they had with him. 103.       As a proximate result of defendants’ willful breach of the implied-in-fact con­tract not to terminate employment without good cause, plaintiff suffered and con­tinues to suffer damages, including losses of earnings and benefits, in a sum according to proof. EIGHTH CAUSE OF ACTION (Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Against Defendants Tribune Company, Tribune Interactive, Tribune Media, Times Communications,  and Times) 104.       The allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 103 are re-alleged and incor­porated herein by reference. 105.       In 1990, plaintiff and defendants entered a contract of employment, as was al­leged above.  In every contract or agreement, there is an implied promise of good faith and fair dealing.  This means that each party will not do anything unfairly to frus­trate or interfere with the rights of any other party to receive benefits of the contract. 106.       Defendants committed a number of actions that prevented plaintiff Simers from receiving the benefits of the contract. 107.       Defendants breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the contract by unfairly interfering with plaintiff’s right to receive the benefits of the con­tract thereunder, specifically his right to expect continued employment so long as he performed competently. 108.       During his employment with defendants, plaintiff substantially performed all of the duties required of him under the terms and conditions of this contract, except where performance was excused or prevented. 109.       All conditions necessary for defendants’ performance had been met. 110.       As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ willful breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer damages, in­cluding losses of earnings and benefits, in a sum according to proof. WHEREFORE, plaintiff, T.J. Simers, prays for judgment against defendants as follows: 1.       For general and special damages according to proof; 2.       For exemplary damages according to proof; 3.       For pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on all damages awarded; 4.       For reasonable attorneys’ fees; 5.       For costs of suit incurred; 6.       For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. ADDITIONALLY, plaintiff, T.J. Simers, demands trial of this matter by jury. Dated:  March 23, 2016            SHEGERIAN & ASSOCIATES, INC. By: Carney R. Shegerian, Esq. Attorneys for plaintiff, T.J. SIMERS SIMERS v. TRIBUNE COMPANY, et al.             LASC CASE NO.:  BC 524 471 PROOF OF SERVICE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES I am an employee in the County of Los Angeles, State of California.  I am over the age of 18 and not a party to the within action; my business address is 225 Arizona Avenue, Suite 400, Santa Monica, California 90401. On March 23, 2016, I served the foregoing document, described as PLAINTIFF T.J. SIMERS’ FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES,” on all interested parties in this action by placing a true copy thereof in a sealed envelope, addressed as follows: Emilio G. Gonzalez, Esq. John P. LeCrone, Esq. Francisco Ochoa, Esq. Davis Wright Tremaine llp 865 South Figueroa Street, 24th Floor Los Angeles, California 90017‑2566 (BY MAIL) As follows: I placed such envelope, with postage thereon prepaid, in the United States mail at Santa Monica, California. (BY FED EX)  I placed such envelope in a designated Federal Express pick-up box at Santa Monica, California. I am “readily familiar” with the firm’s practice of collecting and processing corre­spondence for mailing.  Under that practice, it would be deposited with the U.S. Postal Service on that same day, with postage thereon fully prepaid, at Santa Monica, California, in the ordinary course of business.  I am aware that, on motion of the party served, service is presumed invalid if the postal cancellation or postage meter date is more than one day after the date of deposit for mailing in this affidavit. (BY ELECTRONIC MAIL)  I sent such document via facsimile mail to the number(s) noted above. (BY PERSONAL SERVICE)  I caused such envelope to be delivered by hand to the attorney at the offices of the addressee. (STATE)  I declare, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California, that the above is true and correct. Executed on March 23, 2016, at Santa Monica, California. Ted Ovrom