An Unforgettable Sound is Fired

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As one of the longest running shows on television, The Simpsons is known for its comedic approach to middle-class life, accompanied by an unforgettable animated cast. The series is recognizable by not only the voices of the characters but also the theme song and other compositions played throughout.  Viewers may thank lead composer, Alf Clausen, for his contribution to the series.  The Emmy-winner had worked for his employer since the second season started in 1990.  Unfortunately, Fox cut ties with Clausen in 2017, terminating his employment. Clausen, however, did not take his dismissal lightly and filed a discrimination lawsuit in August 2019.

Clausen, who is 79 years old, is allowed to proceed in his lawsuit against his former employer, Fox, which contains allegations concerning disability discrimination.  A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge did not find it likely that Clausen would succeed in his age discrimination claim.  There is, however, viable evidence to support the claim of disability discrimination.  Clausen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 but remained quiet on his condition until his side effects became noticeable.  In 2016, Clausen notified producers of The Simpsons once he started experiencing tremors and muscle spasms.  According to court documents, producers allegedly did not attempt to accommodate Clausen and his health condition.

On the other side of the argument, Fox contends that Clausen was let go due to his increased decision to outsource work to composers not directly employed by Fox.  One of these composers is Clausen’s son, Scott, who remembers speaking with a Fox executive who was perceivably insensitive to his father’s diagnosis. Fox also argued that they were unsure of whether or not Clausen would be the right fit for the direction the show was taking in regard to range.  In particular, hip hop was included as a musical genre that was not typical for Clausen’s talent.  Clausen fired back, promising that Fox was previously aware of his outsourcing.  In addition, Clausen never foresaw an issue in composing music to match the show’s maturing vision.