Fired Equipment Manager Sues St. Louis Rams for Age Discrimination

Justin Gibson@JustinNColumbiaCorrespondent IIIMay 31, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams reacts to a play against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field December 12, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Seattle won 33-13. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
Jay Drowns/Getty Images

Former St. Louis Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt is suing the team for age discrimination after he was fired in 2011 under previous head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

In a lawsuit filed in the Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis County earlier this week, Hewitt says he was one of numerous employees of the Rams let go by the team after Spagnuolo became coach in 2009. Hewitt was the team's equipment manager since 1985 and had worked for the Rams for 40 years in Los Angeles and St. Louis.

The lawsuit filed by Hewitt reads:

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.

Mr. Spagnuolo also told Mr. Hewitt that his employment was "N F L" which means "Not For Long" employment.

Hewitt goes on in the suit to claim when the team made the decision not to renew his contract in January 2011, it was less than a year short of eligibility for early retirement that begins at age 55. The perk would have also allowed health insurance coverage for Hewitt and his family, according to the suit.

The lawsuit goes on to claim that several employees, including the vice president of operations, head of security, director of player relations, a team photographer and a trainer, were all replaced with people who were significantly younger than their predecessors.

Hewitt became the Rams' ballboy when he was 11 years old in Los Angeles under his father, Don Hewitt, who worked in the team's equipment department. He replaced his father as the equipment manager when the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

The firing of an equipment manager garnered an unusual amount of attention last year for a position that typically isn't recognized in the highest degree by the public. Several articles were written locally and nationally about the matter, including by NBC Sports, USA Today and the Riverfront Times, among many others.

It also became a rally cry for a significant amount fans on talk radio, comments on stories and message boards against a coach they were ready to see get axed himself.

Hewitt and many other former Rams employees held a party at a St. Louis Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate after Spagnuolo was fired from the team earlier this year.

There are no specified damages sought in the lawsuit.