After he was fired from the series, longtime The Simpsons composer Alf Clausen struck back with a lawsuit alleging age discrimination. In a recent response, the show’s producers claim he was ousted after they discovered he was delegating his work to other people, including his son.
Clausen, now 79, worked on the series for 27 years before he was fired three years ago. Last summer, Clausen initiated a lawsuit accusing the producers of releasing him due to his age and his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. His amended complaint also targeted Hans Zimmer, lambasting his successor for a job “inferior in quality, depth, range and sound, yet stylistically similar in substance.”
In an official response, The Simpsons producers trace their decision back to 2011, when they almost replaced Clausen’s live orchestra with computer generated music to save costs. Then, in 2016, producer James L. Brooks wasn’t impressed by Clausen’s work on the hip-hop themed episode “The Great Phatsby,” which led him and some of the others to question the quality of his performance.
“Around that time, I learned that Clausen had been delegating some of the work of composing music for The Simpsons to others, including his son Scott Clausen,” producer Richard Sakai said in a declaration. “I believed his unauthorized delegation was unacceptable. I called showrunner [Al] Jean and told him that Clausen had been delegating his composing work; he conveyed to me that he was surprised and disturbed as well.” Finally, “we decided that we could improve the music on the show by replacing him.”
Additionally, the producers’ attorney Adam Levin points out Clausen was an independent contractor, not an employee, at the time of his firing, which means some discrimination laws do not apply in his particular case. Further, the court papers add, “Apart from the considerable evidence supporting the legitimate creative reasons for the decision, Clausen’s claims are undermined by several facts: He was 48 when he was first engaged as a composer and continued to work through his 50s, 60s and into his 70s; Clausen admits his disability was not affecting his work and that he needed no accommodations; and he fails to identify any comments showing animus based on his age, disability or any protected activity.”
The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
The Simpsons producers issued an official response to Alf Clausen's age discrimination lawsuit with a timeline of the decisions that led to his firing