Alabama Newspaper Sued by Former Publisher Over ‘No Layoff’ Pledge

September 21, 2009

Former Press-Register Publisher Howard Bronson has filed a civil suit against the Mobile newspaper and its owners, claiming breach of contract and other wrongful acts that led to his departure.

Bronson’s suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against defendants including Advance Publications, which owns the Press-Register, and Mark Newhouse, a member of the Newhouse family that bought the paper in 1966.

A phone message left for Mark Newhouse was not immediately returned.

Bronson’s suit claims Newhouse officials in July 2009 reneged on a longstanding job security pledge that guaranteed the paper’s full-time, non-represented employees that they would not be laid off “because of economic circumstances or technological change.”

The suit said that when Bronson was courted to become publisher in September 1991, he was 55 and concerned, among other things, about job security with paper. He said he was assured the Newhouse pledge would stay in place.

The suit claims that on Aug. 10 Mark Newhouse asked Bronson to retire and told him that he would be given six months pay. Later the severance was extended to a year’s pay, the suit says. It says he was told he had two weeks to leave.

According to the suit, Bronson was told that his retirement was not being sought because of job performance but that advertising revenue losses and other factors put the industry’s financial survival in jeopardy.

A new publisher began work at the Press-Register on Aug. 17.

The suit asks that any damages be determined by a jury in a trial.

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