Friday, August 6, 2010

Legal Commentary: Donald Rosenberg

Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland music critic for The Plain Dealer, has lost his lawsuit against his current employers. What was the lawsuit?
Donald Rosenberg, 56, claimed in the lawsuit that the [Cleveland] orchestra lobbied The Plain Dealer to replace him as orchestra reviewer because he frequently panned its conductor, Franz Welser-Moest. The Cuyahoga County jury ruled in favor of the orchestra on charges of defamation and interference with employment, and in favor of the newspaper on an age discrimination charge.

Rosenberg's removal from the beat in September 2008 sparked an outcry in the arts community, and the Music Critics Association of North America asked the newspaper to reinstate him. After 16 years as the newspaper's orchestra critic, he was reassigned to cover other music groups and replaced on the orchestra beat by a younger reviewer.
The whole situation has smelled fishy, and I was interested to hear Donald Rosenberg's case. But once I heard what he actually filed -- age discrimination against the employer and interference against the orchestra -- I was confused. I mean, it has to be one or the other, isn't it? It's either retaliation or age discrimination. By filing separate suits, each defendant could basically blame the other for doing the crime, couldn't they? It seems like a legal mess.

For that sort of a reason, I don't really see it opening up the window for more retaliation against critics.