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Fired equipment manager accuses Rams of age discrimination

Steve Spagnuolo AP

When we wrote last year about the Rams firing equipment manager Todd Hewitt, we heard from a lot of fans who thought the team had treated a longtime employee badly. Now Hewitt is taking the Rams to court, saying they didn’t just treat him badly, they also fired him illegally.

Hewitt, who started working in the Los Angeles Rams’ equipment department as an 11-year-old assistant to his father in 1967, sued the Rams in St. Louis County Court, alleging age discrimination, and he accuses former Rams head coach (and current Saints defensive coordinator) Steve Spagnuolo of specifically targeting him because of his age.

“During the time that Mr. Spagnuolo was the head coach for the Rams, he made statements to Mr. Hewitt about his age, including in 2009, when he told him he was too old for his job,” the lawsuit says, according to Courthouse News. “Mr. Spagnuolo also told Mr. Hewitt that his employment was ‘NFL’ which means ‘Not For Long’ employment.”

Spagnuolo channeling Jerry Glanville aside, Hewitt claims that the Rams showed a pattern of firing older employees during the time when Spagnuolo was head coach and Bill Devaney was general manager. Both Spagnuolo and Devaney were themselves fired this year.

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28 Responses to “Fired equipment manager accuses Rams of age discrimination”
  1. bearsrulepackdrool says: May 31, 2012 11:40 AM

    “age discrimination” is a joke.

    If you’re too old to do the job. You’re too old to do the job. It’s not discrimination. You just can’t do the job any more.

  2. bearsrulepackdrool says: May 31, 2012 11:42 AM

    If this lawsuit works this should clear the way for college players to sue for age discrimination.

    This could also work for players like Hines Ward and James Farrior who were cut because they were too old.

  3. citizenstrange says: May 31, 2012 11:47 AM

    He got hired because he was somebody’s son and he probably got fired because somebody else wanted to hire their own son.

    It’s how nepotism works.

  4. truthfactory says: May 31, 2012 11:49 AM

    I dont understand why its so bad if an employer wants to fire someone because a “younger” person may be more fit and capable for the position?? Why should the Rams (or any organization) have to settle for an older worker, if they legitametly think another (younger) person can do the job better?

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. We all should be constantly trying to prove we can still do our jobs and justify our wages. There’s always someone behind you tryin to take your spot. Whether you’re old or young…

  5. lolb23 says: May 31, 2012 11:50 AM

    56 years old is too old to be an equipment manager?

  6. nineroutsider says: May 31, 2012 11:52 AM

    Spags aptly described his head coaching tenor too “not for long”…

    The legal community would like to formally thank the NFL for all that it does for attorneys around the country in helping them meet their billable hours target.

    Now the fans just need to get in on it somehow, oh wait, the Super Bowl down at JerrahWorld gave them an in.

  7. rollteal says: May 31, 2012 11:59 AM

    Well either way it doesn’t sound like it was approached very well from Spags perspective for someone that the Rams had employed that for that long.

  8. td40 says: May 31, 2012 12:02 PM

    If the guy was 56 years old **and*** obese, out of shape, had known health issue, etc- I could see this. Otherwise, sounds like they want to kick him to the curb for no good reason.

    Meanwhile, there are some 56 year olds out there who could run marathons where a 26 year old collapses.

  9. conormacleod says: May 31, 2012 12:18 PM

    truthfactory says:
    May 31, 2012 11:49 AM
    I dont understand why its so bad if an employer wants to fire someone because a “younger” person may be more fit and capable for the position?? Why should the Rams (or any organization) have to settle for an older worker, if they legitametly think another (younger) person can do the job better?
    ————————————————-
    Because if this wasn’t illegal, then everybody would be fired at age 40 so every company could hire somebody age 20 at a much cheaper salary. It’s not about who can do the job better, it’s about saving salary. It’s against the law. How would you like it if your employer told you today you were being fired, but didn’t even give a reason? Would you just say; “I understand”, and walk away?

  10. eshine76 says: May 31, 2012 12:22 PM

    Did he get fired for not doing his job or because someone younger could do it “better” (and cheaper)? Big difference.

  11. sterilizecromartie says: May 31, 2012 12:22 PM

    “You can’t fire me just because I’m too old to even carry the shoulderpads any more… and because I am a tad bit senial… and because I can’t really hear well anymore… huh?! did you say something??”

  12. sj39 says: May 31, 2012 12:26 PM

    Spags was a paranoid idiot. He tried to get rid of anyone and anything that had any connection to The Greatest Show on Turf as if that would somehow make him a better HC. He got rid of any related posters and artwork, forbid Jim Hanifan from working out at Rams park or talking to O-line players and got rid of any employees from that era that he could. He was lucky to be hired at a time when the ownership was weak and knew nothing about the NFL. Kroenke would never have hired him. Spags may be a good coordinator but he is not HC material.

  13. schmitty2 says: May 31, 2012 12:26 PM

    As a Ram’s fan i would say this might rank in the top 10 of about 100 things wrong with this team

  14. nypd1056 says: May 31, 2012 12:30 PM

    lolb23 says:May 31, 2012 11:50 AM

    56 years old is too old to be an equipment manager?

    Do you know what an equipment managers responsibilities are?

    How can you say 56 is too old. Hopefully you can make it to 56 and then I would like to hear your comments if you suddenly get fired FOR BEING TO OLD

  15. vetdana says: May 31, 2012 12:39 PM

    If this lawsuit works this should clear the way for college players to sue for age discrimination.

    This is not necessarily true because their are specific jobs that are incorporated for specific programs and age groups that are okay d within the realm of Federal & State Employment Law.These are adjudicated & approved daily.You have to know Employment Law {a special field of Law} to sort this all out. Have a good day.

  16. savocabol1 says: May 31, 2012 12:41 PM

    truthfactory says:
    May 31, 2012 11:49 AM
    I dont understand why its so bad if an employer wants to fire someone because a “younger” person may be more fit and capable for the position?? Why should the Rams (or any organization) have to settle for an older worker, if they legitametly think another (younger) person can do the job better?

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. We all should be constantly trying to prove we can still do our jobs and justify our wages. There’s always someone behind you tryin to take your spot. Whether you’re old or young…

    __________________________________

    I would refer to Billy Madison in responding to your comment…..”…we are all dumber now for reading this…”

  17. nycoccet says: May 31, 2012 12:42 PM

    The players that get cut usually are more for diminished skills nd age might have something to do with that but if they still have the skills to play they do. If you can do the job as needed or as well as someone else nd get fired solely on your age is way different then doing your job at a different level bc you lost skills over the years. Nfl teams want to win and would hire anyone of any age if they thought it would help them win. Eg.Howard Mudd of the Eagles best oline coach in football. If they dont they’ll be fired for win discrimination.

  18. thegreatgabbert says: May 31, 2012 12:44 PM

    Team lawyers countered by pointing out to the judge that the average NFL equipment manager’s career is even less than 45 years.

  19. dempsey63 says: May 31, 2012 12:48 PM

    It might have helped if he had quit referring to the team as the Cleveland Rams.

  20. nineroutsider says: May 31, 2012 12:48 PM

    @nypd1056 says: May 31, 2012 12:30 PM

    @lolb23 says:May 31, 2012 11:50 AM

    56 years old is too old to be an equipment manager?

    Do you know what an equipment managers responsibilities are?

    How can you say 56 is too old. Hopefully you can make it to 56 and then I would like to hear your comments if you suddenly get fired FOR BEING TO OLD
    ———————————————-
    Well, hopefully when he makes it to 56 his reading comprehension is much better than yours because clearly you took a big swing and a miss on this one there ole timer…

  21. Deb says: May 31, 2012 1:11 PM

    bearsrulepackdrool says:

    “age discrimination” is a joke.

    If you’re too old to do the job. You’re too old to do the job. It’s not discrimination. You just can’t do the job any more.
    ————————————————-
    Nowhere has it been alleged that he couldn’t do the job. The guy was in his early 50s and being an equipment manager isn’t particularly taxing. And just because it hasn’t happened to you or me doesn’t mean certain types of discrimination aren’t real.

    You sound as though you’re in your teens or 20s and can’t project further than six months into the future. However, one day you’ll be over 50 and discover you can do your job as well or better than ever, but employers don’t want you because you increase their health insurance premiums through no fault of your own. Or your younger managers want workers their own age. Or you’ll go through a corporate takeover–say, the introduction of a new ownership/coaching regime–and discover the new guys like to clean house even if you’ve been a loyal employee for 43 years. Why? Just to beat their chests and show they’re in charge now.

    People shouldn’t have to lose their jobs over that kind of nonsense, but it happens every day. I’m glad Hewitt’s suing–just wish Spagnuolo would have to personally pay any damages.

  22. jbaxt says: May 31, 2012 1:13 PM

    “If the guy was 56 years old **and*** obese, out of shape, had known health issue, etc- I could see this. Otherwise, sounds like they want to kick him to the curb for no good reason.”

    Why you got to point out Charlie Weis like that?

  23. ramofsteel says: May 31, 2012 1:14 PM

    Hewitt needs to stop being butthurt about this. It sucks, I know, in this day and age, but as part of the business you should never take it for granted. It’s seems to me Hewitt has an agenda to make the Rams look bad as possible. Besides, why sue now? Spags isn’t even w/ the team and pretty much the whole FO is new (except for Demoff).

  24. nooittall says: May 31, 2012 1:34 PM

    This is nothing new. Just about every team in the league has done this to their scouting staffs, getting rid of older, experienced scouts in order to hire kids on the cheap to go out and just gather information and call them scouts; even though most of them wouldn’t know a player if they got run over by one.

  25. castleanthrax says: May 31, 2012 1:40 PM

    @ truthfactory:

    It’s called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act also additional protection of the Older Worker’s Benefit Protection Act 1990.

    Not sure if these equipment managers are part of the CBA, but when you let someone over 40 go you usually have a draft with a severance, etc. If the employee signs they sign away the right to sue (if the doc is properly drafted anyway). The employee has 21 days to sign that doc and another 7 afterwards to change their mind.

    @ jbaxt

    56 years old (ADEA, OWBPA Acts); Obese (ADA); known health issue (FMLA or ADA).

    at the end of the day no manager should ever, EVER, say to an older worker their time is short. That is just greasing the skids to a law suit. What an idiot Spags is.

  26. wetpaperbag3 says: May 31, 2012 1:58 PM

    truthfactory says: May 31, 2012 11:49 AM

    I dont understand why its so bad if an employer wants to fire someone because a “younger” person may be more fit and capable for the position?? Why should the Rams (or any organization) have to settle for an older worker, if they legitametly think another (younger) person can do the job better?

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world. We all should be constantly trying to prove we can still do our jobs and justify our wages. There’s always someone behind you tryin to take your spot. Whether you’re old or young…
    ======================================

    Age discrimination is illegal because…it’s illegal. An employer cannot not discriminate based on gender (sex), age, race, or sexual orientation. It’s both federal AND state law.

    I can understand if the guy CAN’T perform his duties any longer, but if the guy is STILL getting the job done, granted he may be at least twice as old as his replacement, he shouldn’t lose his job because of his age. It’s that simple.

  27. coloradotexan says: May 31, 2012 2:15 PM

    There are a lot of good points being made. I’m now 53 and beginning to feel encroachment from younger guys. I believe it ultimately falls on the individual to manage his own destiny by staying current in his thinking & skills, staying strong & healthy so he can function effectively, and using his experience as an advantage. Then there’s the random act of an employer wanting a younger guy simply because he costs less.

  28. NoHomeTeam says: May 31, 2012 3:15 PM

    ramofsteel says: . . . “It’s seems to me Hewitt has an agenda to make the Rams look bad as possible. . . .”

    No need to for Hewitt to do that; the Rams have been managing to make themselves look bad without any outside assistance for decades.

    I just hope that Kroenke puts enough of the right people in place to turn this thing around before they start playing in Farmer’s Field.

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