Age Discrimination Suit Nets $70 Million for Hollywood TV Writers

On January 22, a protracted age discrimination lawsuit came to a close in California, when 17 Hollywood studios, television networks, and talent agencies agreed to pay out $70 million to a class of television writers over the age of 40 who had alleged violations of the Labor Management Relations Act, the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The talent agency International Creative Management (ICM) settled a related matter in August, 2008 — paying out around $4.5 million in settlement monies to the plaintiffs.

Around two thirds of the $70 million will be paid by insurance companies representing the defendants. 165 members (and settlement classes) will divvy up the money through something called the Fund for the Future, which will be overseen by members of the settlement class to be used for loans and grants to help writers with medical insurance and pensions.

This age discrimination litigation has been keeping lawyers for the networks and studios busy for about a decade. The ruling by the California Superior Court may mark a turning point for the entertainment industry, which only recently resolved a protracted and painful TV and movie writers strike.

Industry insiders have often argued that studios and networks — which relentlessly target youth culture and the 18-25 demographic — cultivate a hostile climate for older writers. Not all industry players agree, however. For instance, one analyst has pointed out that many of today’s most successful television comics — and writers for both drama and comedy — are age 40 and above. An opposite charge is also often levied: that Hollywood can be unusually hostile to aspiring talent. Hollywood wannabees often must endure years of busy work and grueling assistant jobs before being able to work in truly creative capacities.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of age discrimination in Hollywood, New York, or anywhere else, the firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum may be able to assist. As with most employment-related claims, there are inherent deadlines by which you must take specific legal action to preserve your rights. Discuss your matter with us in confidence ASAP at (212) 688-5640, or visit us online at www.jhllp.com for information about our services and credentials.