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Age discrimination alleged in California talent agency suit

Older employees can offer Los Angeles employers a high level of experience to complement new ideas from younger workers. Ideally, employees at different life stages work together to help companies reach their goals, but the ideal isn’t always the reality. Some older workers are treated like dead weight.

Businesses sometimes see older employees as workers to be winnowed out, rather than rich resources. Since laws forbid age discrimination, companies may find other ways to boot an older person out the door. An employee can suffer harassment until going to work feels so miserable, the worker quits.

The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing granted a right-to-sue notice to a former employee of William Morris Endeavor, a California talent agency. The man was hired in 2008, one year in advance of the merger between the William Morris Agency and Endeavor. Among other allegations, the former agency assistant said he was denied entry into a talent agent training program due to his age.

After the merger, superiors allegedly began to make offensive comments about the man’s age and older appearance. A lawsuit, filed this month by the ex-employee, states an executive in WME’s human resources department called the assistant a poor “fit” for the WME model. The former employee said he was denied training, despite good reviews for his work during four years of employment.

WME attorneys called the harassment and discrimination action “frivolous.” The company reportedly terminated the assistant for other reasons, including a habit of being late for work and repeated absenteeism. The DFEH complaint noted the plaintiff, now 44, was among very few WME workers older than 40.

Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers may not use age to discriminate against workers 40 and older in hiring, promotion, pay, firing or training decisions. Legal advice can help mistreated older workers receive compensation for lost wages and benefits, among other damages.

Source: Billboard, “WME Sued for Age Discrimination by Former Assistant” Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, Jun. 16, 2014

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