A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: gender discrimination

Newsflash: Youth and Good Looks Work Well on TV.

By LASIS Staff

In 2010, seasoned Southern California weatherman Kyle Hunter got wind of a weather anchor opening at KCBS, a Los Angeles-based television news station. Mr. Hunter, who at 42 had accumulated 22 years of broadcasting experience and has a degree in geosciences and broadcast meteorology, contacted the station’s management about the job immediately. He never heard back.

Instead, KCBS hired Jackie Johnson, a 32-year-old female weather forecaster from its sister station, KCAL. Eager to fill the new void at KCAL, Mr. Hunter then contacted that station, but was told in an e-mail that there was “not an opening for you here now.” He later learned that 25-year-old weather anchor Evelyn Taft snagged the spot.

Mr. Hunter, an award winning, certified meteorologist, claims the stations hired young, attractive females, instead of qualified males like himself, in an effort to hook more male viewers. He is suing CBS Broadcasting in California state court for gender and age discrimination in violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), seeking money damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees for the alleged discrimination and his “pain and suffering.”

Well-known discrimination attorney and active feminist Gloria Allred is representing Mr. Hunter in what she says is a “trail blazing lawsuit” because “most victims of gender discrimination are female.” According to the Huffington Post, CBS maintains that the accusations are “frivolous” and predicts “an early dismissal” of the lawsuit.

FEHA prohibits employers from either refusing to hire or firing someone based on gender, but let’s face it, Ms. Taft and Ms. Johnson weren’t hired just because they are female. They were hired because they are attractive, too.

This might not sound fair or just, but television is a visual medium – and television news is a business that relies on viewers and advertisers to make a profit. So, was Mr. Hunter not being hired an exercise of sound business judgment or age and gender discrimination?

The media accurately reported the facts, but didn’t analyze the legal issues. LASIS will.   (more…)

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Jimmy Fallon Prefers Women, Alleges Ex-Employee

By Ashley Davidson

Girl power has new meaning on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Paul Tarascio, a former stage manager on the show, claims he was discriminated against for not being a woman, and is suing in the New York State Supreme Court for gender discrimination.

Prior to working for Mr. Fallon, Mr. Tarascio was a stage manager for Conan O Brien’s old late night show. When Conan relocated to California, Mr. Tarascio stayed in New York, and was hired as first stage manager for Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Mr. Tarascio was an employee “at will,” and his duties consisted of managing staff and orchestrating stage activities. He claims that during his time on the Jimmy Fallon show, he had never been criticized for his work.  (That must be nice!)

Then in 2009 Mr. Tarascio was told that he was being demoted to second stage manager.  According to the Complaint, executive producer Michael Shoemaker told him he’d done nothing wrong, it’s just that Mr. Fallon felt “more comfortable” with the woman who was selected to take his place. A woman, according to Mr. Tarascio, who wasn’t very good at her job.  And the show’s director, David Diomedi, allegedly told him that, “Jimmy just prefers to take direction from a woman”, but there was nothing he could do to help Mr. Tarascio — because (can you guess?) he was afraid of losing his job to a woman, as well.

Mr. Tarascio objected to his demotion and was notified, for the first time, of several issues his employer had with his performance. Then in the spring, he was fired.

The media (see here and here) have loved this battle of the sexes case that has a man suing for gender discrimination, but they haven’t weighed in on the case’s merits. LASIS takes a look.  (more…)

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