In Hollywood, lawsuits related to age discrimination are very common. Directors, stuntmen, writers, and others who work behind-the-scenes may find themselves pushed out of their professions by employers who want to hire younger and cheaper workers. In Hollywood, however, like in all other industries, age discrimination is not legal.
While the movie and TV business is a relatively small industry, cases brought within this field tend to generate publicity and draw attention to the problem of age discrimination. One recent case reported on by Hollywood Reporter, for example, is a clear illustration of the types of alleged discriminatory behaviors which can prompt employees to file civil lawsuits against their employers. In this case, systemic discrimination was alleged.
Systemic Age Discrimination Can Lead to Lawsuits Against Employers
Employees in any field should consult with an employment discrimination lawyer if they suspect systemic age discrimination is occurring within their worksite and has affected the terms and conditions of their employment. A claim brought by Frank Snepp against NBC Universal based on systemic wage discrimination demonstrates some of the different kinds of alleged employer behavior which can lead to litigation. Snepp became a field producer for NBC in 2006, after a long career in which he won a Peabody and an Emmy. He worked in this role as a field producer until his termination.
Snepp first filed suit in 2013 after he was terminated from a California television station in 2012. At the time of his termination, he was 69 years old. He claims NBC acted intentionally to drive him out of his work, and did the same thing to other older workers. NBC reportedly developed a host of untrue criticisms and complaints, placing the complaints into his employment file so there was a manufactured record of poor performance to justify Snepp’s termination. In its response to Snepp’s age discrimination lawsuit, NBC pointed to this history of complaints to illustrate the termination resulted from poor job performance.
NBC filed a motion for summary judgment to get Snepp’s case dismissed, claiming he could not bring an age discrimination case because he would need to prove he had been replaced by a younger worker. The judge denied the motion for summary judgment, finding it unclear whether a discrimination claim required the hiring of a younger worker to fill the position. Snepp’s case could go forward because he had submitted evidence suggesting age-animus as a the reason for his removal.
Snepp claims he was not the only victim, but that NBC had devised a plan to get rid of many older employees by changing their positions, reverse-engineering requirements of the job, and then criticizing them unfairly. Some employees gave up and resigned when they were marginalized by their employer. Several other employees have testified in the trial about the treatment they experienced where they suddenly found themselves the target of extensive criticisms they believed unjustified.
Employers in any industry cannot simply change job requirements to manufacture a history of bad performance because they want to terminate older workers. When employees are subject to this pattern of behavior, they should explore their options for pursuing a discrimination claim.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
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