Coffey-Patterson lawsuit

Dateline: Tue 06 Feb 2007

As everyone knows, Lisa Coffey and James Patterson, former Star editorial staff employees, are pursuing a Title VII discrimination lawsuit against the Indianapolis Star and Gannett Co.

Coffey contacted me a few weeks ago, with the news that she and Patterson have retained a new attorney, Lawrence Newman of Indy.

Patterson and Coffey are claiming that, as fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians, they experienced religious discrimination at the paper. They believe that their position that homosexuality is a sin resulted in an intolerant work atmosphere. The paper, under the leadership of publisher Barbara Henry and exec editor Dennis Ryerson, advocates gay causes, they believe, at the expense of other perspectives.

Now it sounds like Coffey and Patterson may consider expanding their lawsuit to include other forms of discrimination -- age and race in particular. They are seeking stories from former Star staffers who believe they too experienced discrimination or an intolerant work atmosphere.

At one point when I was still at the Star, the newspaper Guild was considering a class-action lawsuit against Gannett based on the number of unsatisfactory work reviews given to people over a certain age. There was a widespread, in-house belief that the Star wanted to get rid of certain employees -- those who were older, had higher salaries and carried more costly insurance/benefits packages. No question, there was a pattern of poor reviews for some of these staff members, but eventually the Star must have gotten wise. Poof, the bad assessments became satisfactory, and the "problem" went away. For now, at any rate.

Here is the email sent by Coffey to blog readers -- if you think you got screwed, let them know:

"Former Star staffers are welcome to contact James Patterson (317-201-7653 / pjimjamjp@earthlink.net) or Lisa Coffey (317-226-9709 / LisaCoffey01@aol.com) to discuss their views regarding current issues/

concerns/instances of alleged age, race or religious discrimination at The Star."

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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