As reported this morning by Robert Kahn of Courthouse News Service, there are a number of charges contained in a $13 million lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles Times magazine by that publication’s former publisher Steven Gellman. He is going after Tribune Co. for wrongful firing, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of business and professions codes.
The violations aspect of this complaint is sure to grab the lion’s share of headlines. Gellman alleges that soon after he joined the monthly publication in July of 2009, he started receiving customer complaints about “discriminatory distribution.” Per the lawsuit:
“Defendants made the decision to eliminate distribution of the magazine in the Sunday paper to lower-income, and demographically minority neighborhoods, such as Highland Park and Compton. Although the minority subscribers in these ZIP codes were not receiving the Los Angeles Times magazine, they were still paying the same subscription price as the white affluent subscribers. Further, defendants continued to distribute the Los Angeles Times magazine in the Sunday paper in the white affluent neighborhoods.”
The oddest part of Kahn’s article is the allegation that when Gellman took these customer complaints to his direct superior, he was told not to worry because the magazine had a “‘story’ for this.”
Update – 09/16/11: Gary Weitman, senior vice-president of corporate relations for the Tribune Co., has provided FishbowlLA with the following statement via email: “After reviewing the lawsuit just filed by Mr. Gellman, we believe the claims contained in it are without merit. As this is a matter of ongoing litigation, we will defer further comment.”