Edward Murphy of Waterford worked for newspaper for almost 34 years.
He covered sports, town politics, became a copy editor and then a copy desk editor before branching off as the custom publications editor. There he created or oversaw the creation of magazines like “Grace,” “Marketplace,” “Sound and Country” and “Spaces” while continuing to run weekly sections like “Wheels” and “Home Source.”
But in April 2009, when he was 56 years old, The Day terminated his employment. At the time, the newspaper said his position was being consolidated, and The Day publisher Gary Farrugia later called it a “recession-driven decision.”
The person who replaced Murphy left in December of 2010, and The Day set out to hire a new editor of custom publications. Murphy applied, even sending the company an e-mail saying he would be willing to take less money for the same position.
He was never granted an interview. In January of 2011, the company hired a woman younger than him to fill the position. This month, Murphy, now 59, and his lawyer, Thomas Riley, have filed a lawsuit against The Day arguing the company discriminated against him because of his age and his gender.
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In 2002, Farrugia took over as publisher of The Day. One of his first initiatives at The Day was naming Murphy the head of custom publications, according to a letter of recommendation written by Farrugia for Murphy.
Murphy, who began working at The Day in 1975, held that post until April of 2009, when his employment was terminated. During his tenure at The Day, Murphy never had a negative performance review, according to Murphy's legal complaint written by Riley.
Additionally, Murphy received a letter of recommendation by Farrugia after his employment was terminated in 2009. In it, Farrugia lauded Murphy for his “prodigious writing, editing and design skills,” which “delighted readers of The Day and its affiliated publications for more than 30 years.”
“Ed possesses that rare blend of artistic creativity combined with detail-oriented tactical execution on deadline,” Farrugia wrote. “He sees the entire game board as a publication is nearing completion.”
In the fall of 2010, the person who replaced Murphy left. In December 2010, The Day advertised the position in its own newspaper, detailing the same skills and duties for which Murphy was responsible for when he held the job and the skills Farrugia praised Murphy for in his letter of recommendation, according to the complaint.
On Dec. 17, 2010, Murphy sent an e-mail to The Day's human resources department, saying he would take less money for the same job.
“Recognizing that the company certainly has an interest in cost savings, I just want to make sure folks know that I would not wish to lose out on an opportunity over the salary figure I used to command,” Murphy wrote. “Simply put: I would be flexible on the money issue.”
Murphy was never granted an interview for the position. Instead, The Day hired Faye Trafford, who is roughly 25 years younger than Murphy, in January of 2011, according to the complaint.
In the complaint, Riley writes that Trafford had “no managerial experience, and little, if any magazine experience, and is less qualified than (Murphy) for the position.” In an e-mail to Patch, Riley said The Day has refused to provide information regarding the education, qualifications, or experience of Trafford, and The Day “has steadfastly refused to explain in any principled way its decision to hire the present custom publications editor instead of Mr. Murphy.”
Murphy has now sued The Day, alleging he was not hired because of age and gender discrimination. Murphy alleges his gender came into play because the position description of the custom publications editor “reflects … bias in favor of female candidates,” partly because the position wanted somebody who “engages in local women’s networks” to help run The Day’s magazine for women, “Grace”, according to the complaint.
In the complaint, Riley alleges that Murphy lost $47,500 in wages to date and is suing for damages exceeding $15,000.
After The Day terminated Murphy’s employment in 2009, he and his lawyer claimed he was let go because of his age, according to the complaint. The Day and Murphy “resolved the dispute” with a confidential agreement, according to the complaint.
Patch met with Murphy, but he did not want to discuss the case on-the-record on advice from his lawyer. An e-mail from Patch to Farrugia asking for comment was not returned.