(AP) An outside arbitrator has ruled that The Indianapolis Star was justified last year in firing longtime sports writer and columnist Robin Miller.
Mediator James R. Cox of Chicago determined that Miller violated newspaper policy by sending e-mail in which he was alleged to have used abusive language and made derogatory comments about newsmakers, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George.
In the ruling, handed down last week and reported in The Star on Thursday, Cox also said Miller violated the newspaper’s ethics policy by accepting money from race driver Kenny Brack. Cox said Miller formulated racing trivia questions for a Web site run by Brack, whom Miller covered as The Star‘s auto racing writer.
Miller was paid $2,500 by Brack, although he told The Associated Press on Thursday that he simply lined up two people to prepare the questions and gave all the money to them.
A grievance over his discharge was filed by Local 70 of The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America, which represents newsroom employees.
Marc Allan, president of Local 70, said the arbitrator should have ruled that the Star erred by not warning Miller, a 33-year employee of the paper, before firing him in January 2001. Allan said he did not believe the union could appeal.
Miller, 52, said he had not expected to return to the newspaper but was seeking about $35,000 in severance pay he believed he was owed.
“The thing that floors me is why do they go after someone who gave his life to that newspaper for so many years?” Miller said. “It will baffle me until my grave why they decided to go after someone because of their e-mails.”
Barbara Henry, The Star‘s president and publisher, said she believed the arbitrator clearly found that Miller had conflicts of interest and a lack of civility in violation of the newspaper’s policies.
Since his dismissal, Miller has been an auto-racing commentator for ESPN and Indianapolis TV station WTHR.