Simers v. Los Angeles Times Communications, LLC (2018)
January 5, 2018
In this high-profile employment case, Horvitz & Levy convinced the Court of Appeal to reject a former sports columnist’s constructive discharge claim as a matter of law. The Court of Appeal’s 55-page published opinion provides employers with a powerful tool for opposing constructive discharge claims on legal grounds, either through a pretrial motion for summary judgment or (as here) through a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
Former Times columnist T.J. Simers resigned following an investigation into his conduct as a columnist. Although a jury found that Simers was constructively terminated, Horvitz & Levy persuaded the Court of Appeal to reject Simers’s constructive discharge claim as a matter of law. The court explained that even if Simers found the investigation and reassignment personally difficult or embarrassing, he was not constructively discharged because the Times did not subject him to a working environment that was so intolerable a reasonable employee would have been compelled to quit. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal held that Simers was not entitled to economic damages, and the Times is entitled to a new trial on noneconomic damages.