An assistant director on the popular TV show The Big Bang Theory, Christopher Klausen, has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros Television, the producer of the sitcom aired on the CBS network. The lawsuit charges violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, failure to prevent discrimination and wrongful termination. He is represented by Michael Bononi and Jarryd Cooper of the Los Angeles employment law firm Bononi Law Group.
According to a story in the Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Klausen believes he was the victim of age discrimination on the show. He charges that the studio and production staff members reduced his work on the show and wrongfully terminated him after the eighth season. His claim states that after he turned 50, he began to experience the consequences of illegal age discrimination.
He worked as a second assistant director or stage manager and first assistant director on television shows for more than 30 years, including the very successful sitcoms Diff’rent Strokes and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He successfully worked on The Big Bang Theory from the beginning, starting with the show’s pilot in 2007.
The Details of the Age Discrimination Case
However, beginning in 2012, when he turned 50, his duties changed. For example, his interaction with the actors was curtailed, and that responsibility was given to much younger staffers, who were described by managers as “relating to the actors better.” According to the complaint, the only reason that the younger directors related better was their age. Both were under 35.
He was also demoted, going from second assistant director to an uncredited role of second second assistant director, with duties limited to blocking the actors. Finally, he says he was then fired after the eighth season, but given no reason about inadequate performance. He believes that because he had been requested to substitute for the first assistant director during the seventh season, his performance had not been an issue. He concluded that the only possible reason for his firing was his age.
The lawsuit is similar to recent age discrimination cases against NBCUniversal and Disney. The outcome of the current claim remains to be seen. It will be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court.