The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) is the federal statute that prohibits discrimination against employees or job applicants due to their age. It protects people over the age of 40. The federal prohibitions against employment discrimination due to age are administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). California and all other states also have laws and enforcement agencies against similar prohibited job discrimination practices.
In California, many employment discrimination claims involve the entertainment industry, with its voluminous numbers of employees in all aspects of the vast industry. In one current case, a 64-year-old former director for the Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family” program has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the producer of the show and the owner of the Hallmark Channel. The main claim is that the producer, Woody Fraser Productions, Inc., fired him due to his advanced age.
The complaint alleges a long pattern of harassment by Woody Fraser in which the plaintiff had to endure insulting comments and references to his age. The complaint alleges that the plaintiff was replaced by a person under the age of 40 who has inferior qualifications. The Hallmark Channel is accused essentially of failing to get rid of Fraser for engaging in harassment and discrimination.
The plaintiff’s allegation of being replaced by someone much younger with inferior qualifications creates at least an initial inference of employment discrimination under both federal and California law. The producer apparently claims that the plaintiff did a bad job as director of the show. The case will enter the discovery phase where each side will engage in a fact-intensive inquiry of each other. In most instances, the court then issues a decision on whether the plaintiff has established a sufficient factual dispute to allow the case to go forward to trial. If the plaintiff’s case gets over that critical hurdle and is approved to go forward to trial, the plaintiff will be in a much stronger position to negotiate for a settlement prior to the start of trial or even sometimes during the trial.
Source: Diamond Bar-Walnut, CA. Patch, “Fired TV Shopping Show Director Sues on Age Discrimination”, Mirna Alfonso, Dec. 24, 2015