In most industries, the expertise acquired through time makes an employee better at his job. This value sometimes gets passed along to the employee in the form of higher pay. Simultaneously, an employer might fear that an older workforce may require greater health related expenditures. Untoward employers then, frustrated at the prospect of having to pay quality workers quality wages, do their best to push older workers out the door in favor of less experienced but cheaper workers. Often times, they are able to do so without running afoul of the law. Other times, like in the example of T.J. Simers and the Los Angeles Times, they are not so fortunate.
T.J. Simers may or may not be a quality employee, but a jury of his peers recently awarded him over $7 million dollars based on his discrimination claim. Attorneys for Simers successfully argued that he was fired from his job as a sports columnist for the Times as a result of his age and disability. The Times tried to argue that they fired Simers because he violated ethical guidelines by using his column to promote a video that was in turn promoting a reality show based on his life, all the while failing to disclose this business interest to his employer. This is more plausible than most pretextual reasons given by employers, largely because Simers was using his column to promote a video that was promoting a reality show based on his life.
A case like this, featuring a high salaried and ethically questionable plaintiff, will get a lot of attention due to the employer and employee. The plaintiff might not be sympathetic and the facts may not be great. It does, however, bring attention to an issue that affects the lives of countless lower salaried, higher principled employees. A system where the better you get at your job, the less security you have at your job, is not good for anyone. Large corporations cannot be trusted to obey the law on their own, so it is necessary sometimes to bring legal action. In addition to compensating an individual who has been illegally discriminated against, lawsuits like this one are sometimes the only way to keep powerful employers from abusing their power.