Former Rams equipment manager drops age discrimination suit

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Longtime St. Louis Rams equipment manager Todd Hewitt has dropped his age discrimination lawsuit against the team, ending four years of litigation.

A joint statement from the Rams and Hewitt on Wednesday says he is dismissing both the suit and arbitration.

"Upon reviewing the evidence uncovered during discovery, I have decided to dismiss my claim that I was discriminated against by the Rams with prejudice and without receiving any compensation or consideration in the settlement," Hewitt said. "I wish the Rams, its employees, and former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo well."

The lawsuit alleged Hewitt was fired in 2011 by Spagnuolo due to his age. Hewitt was 54 at the time and had worked for the Rams organization full-time since 1978. He served as equipment manager for 16 years.

The Rams are "committed to fostering a positive and professional workplace that values and respects each member of our organization," executive vice president Kevin Demoff said in the statement.

In April, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the suit must go to arbitration because of the terms of Hewitt's employment contract. The court directed that a neutral arbitrator be appointed in place of the NFL commissioner to eliminate the risk of bias since the commissioner is employed by the league's owners.

Hewitt began working for the Los Angeles Rams at age 11, helping his father with the team's equipment. He officially joined the staff in 1978 and succeeded his father as equipment manager in 1986. He was named NFL Equipment Manager of the Year in 1997.

The lawsuit said Spagnuolo, hired as head coach in 2009, made comments to Hewitt about his age, including telling him he was too old for the job.

"Mr. Spagnuolo also told Mr. Hewitt that his employment was 'NFL' which means 'Not For Long' employment," the lawsuit stated.

Hewitt was 10 months shy of eligibility for extended health benefits for himself and his family and would have become eligible for early retirement when he was fired in January 2011, the lawsuit stated

Spagnuolo was fired in 2012 after compiling a 10-38 record over three seasons. He is now defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

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