Age and Disability Discrimination in the Entertainment Industry

A California court this week heard arguments in a case by a former “The Young and the Restless” star who claims she was retaliated against. The Complaint’s main allegation is that Sony Pictures refused to rehire Actress victoria Rowell after she quit over supposed racial discrimination in the soap opera field. However, the judge said that the claim is defective since Plaintiff has not shown an open position that she can fill nor has she shown that she even applied for an open position. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that in the entertainment industry there is a protocol for hiring different than the “open position” mechanism used in other industries. In addition, Plaintiff’s Complaint included that although her character was killed off back in 2007, there is a way to bring back a character in many different ways. Moreover, the Complaint alleged that the Plaintiff suffered abuse when she was denied informal rewriting tasks when her white counterparts were indeed permitted such tasks. It remains to be seen how the court rules in this case.

Another entertainment persona-related case was argued in court this week. Here, the Plaintiff, an LA Times renowned sports columnist T.J. Simers argued that the LA Times forced him out after over 20 years working for the media outlet. The Complaint alleged age (63) discrimination and disability (stroke) discrimination and sought $18 million in damages. LA Times argued that the Plaintiff exhibited unethical behavior when he promoted a friend’s company during a segment he taped interviewing an NBA star named Dwight Howard. The editor did not appreciate that the Plaintiff pursued external job opportunities while employed by the LA Times, and wanted to find the actions ethical breaches even though these were committed with Plaintiff’s editor’s knowledge.

Under the enforcement arm of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, California prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities. An employer may only discriminate against a person because of his/her disability if the employer can demonstrate that: (i) The employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the job; and that no reasonable accommodation exists that would enable the person to perform the essential functions of the job, and (ii) The employee would create an imminent and substantial danger to himself/herself or a substantial danger to others by performing the job; and that no reasonable accommodation can be made to remove or reduce the danger. See more information here. Also, see the following blogs for examples of age and disability discrimination.

If you believe that you suffered an employment law matter related to your employee rights or know of possible age or disability discrimination, prompt action to preserve your rights is crucial. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.