A group of eight former employees from The Cincinnati Enquirer filed an amended lawsuit Oct. 19 accusing the Gannett-owned newspaper of age discrimination. The lawsuit, which was originally filed by Joseph Fenton and Catherine Reutter in 2011, was amended on Oct. 19 to include six more plaintiffs.
The origins of the complaint, which also alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, began when Fenton was allegedly told he was performing poorly at The Enquirer. On November 2010, Fenton was “suddenly informed” by his supervisor, Julie Engebrecht, that his performance was unsatisfactory.
This was despite Engebrecht allegedly acknowledging that Fenton was a “great editor” in the same conversation.
Despite a series of meetings through human resources, Fenton was fired on Feb. 18, 2011. He was 57, and he had worked for Gannett for 14 years, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also says Fenton had no previous record of discipline, but Engebrecht had allegedly referred to Fenton as a “dinosaur” and “curmudgeon.”
When he was terminated, at least seven other individuals — all “near or over the age of 50” — at The Enquirer were laid off as well, according to the lawsuit.
This is all despite Fenton having a history of “high-quality work” at The Enquirer, including two projects nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit goes on to make similar claims for the other former employees involved. They were all 45 years old or older when terminated, and most claim younger, less qualified employees replaced them.