[UPDATED] Reporter at Hearst paper files age-discrimination suit, cites colleague’s ‘surfing sabbatical’

Connecticut Post reporter Anne Amato has filed an age discrimination suit against her employer. The 64-year-old journalist contends the Hearst paper is trying to “rid itself of its older reporters” while letting a young staffer take what the New Haven Independent calls “surfing sabbatical.” (I’m told that she’s taking unpaid time off and that there’s no guarantee she’ll have a job when returns home.)

Amato says she was put on a “personal improvement plan” in October 2011, and that three other reporters over the age of 40 “were given threats of termination.” Post executive editor Barbara Roessner writes in an email: “Hearst does not discriminate on any basis.”

Brittany Lyte on the surfboard

Attorney John Williams compares his client with 25-year-old reporter and surfer Brittany Lyte:

It’s pretty appalling. You have a reporter whose commitment to the paper extends no further than that, then you have somebody like Anne, a dogged reporter from the ground level up, and you treat her like they did.

Journalism professor and media critic Dan Kennedy isn’t surprised the paper gave Lyte time off to surf. “I would imagine that in this incredibly challenging environment, if one of your people came to you and said ‘I would like to leave the paper for a year and not get paid,’ that is attractive for a whole host of reasons.”

One labor attorney wonders what Amato’s damages are since she’s still at the paper. “I’m not sure she’s been harmed at this point,” says Jonathan Orleans. “That’s part of her burden in the case.”

What happened to your fun tweets, Brittany? I checked Lyte’s Twitter page when I started writing this post and began following her.

The deleted tweets

I returned to her page before publishing this post to get the URL and noticed that some of her “fun tweets” were missing. Fortunately I had left her page open from my first visit so I was able to see what she deleted: tweets about an airport bar tab, surfing, and spotting Diane Keaton. Go ahead and have fun, Brittany — and tweet away!

* Connecticut Post reporter sues her employer (newhavenindependent.org)