Columnist Claims Firing Violated Right to Free Speech

September 30, 2009 ( - A former Hartford Courant consumer-affairs columnist has sued the newspaper and its owner, accusing them of violating his free speech rights by forcing him out of his job.

The Associated Press reports that George Gombossy’s position was eliminated in August after he told his editors he planned to write a column about a state investigation into Sleepy’s, a mattress company that advertises with the Courant. According to the AP, Gombossy’s attorney said this suit marks the first time a journalist has used a Connecticut law that protects free speech in the workplace to contest a firing on grounds he was trying to protect consumers and keep his newspaper “trustworthy.”

Gombossy is seeking past and future economic losses, including fringe and retirement benefits, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

The Courant, owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co., says Gombossy mischaracterized the circumstances surrounding his departure from the newspaper for personal gain.