What does Age Discrimination in Hollywood have to do with Kentucky Workers?
Who doesn’t dream of being a star and living in Hollywood? Big houses, fancy cars, bank accounts full of money. While that is what comes to mind when we think of Hollywood, the truth is that the majority of actors and actresses struggle to make ends meet, just like the rest of us. With TV producers turning more toward reality shows and needing fewer trained actors, smaller parts not filled by well-known stars are becoming few and far between.
One such struggling actress has filed a lawsuit stating her chances of finding work have become even slimmer since her age was posted on Internet Movie Database Pro, a website owned by Amazon. She is referred to as “Jane Doe” in all court documents and articles to protect her anonymity. “Jane Doe” is over 40, which many consider over the hill in show business.
Some think the actress is whining and the lawsuit is frivolous. They point to numerous actresses who are well over 40 and are sought after for movies and TV shows. Susan Sarandon, Sandra Bullock, and Meryl Streep are just a few of the examples given. But these are all women with incredible star power, not women who are struggling to land a small part on one episode of a TV series. Rather than giving unknown actors a chance to prove their ability to fill a role, they are dismissed as soon as the casting director checks the online database and sees they are five years older than the character to be portrayed.
Most Kentucky employees are not actors or actresses in Hollywood, but the same discrimination can occur in any other work setting. If anything on an individual’s resume reveals his age to a potential employer, he may be immediately discarded as being “too old” before he has a chance to prove himself as able to fill the position. In order to combat age discrimination, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967. It gives people over the age of 40 the same opportunities as those who are younger.
Individuals over 40 are protected under this act when they are applying for positions and when they are employed. Potential employers cannot ask the age of an applicant directly, nor can they ask questions that may reveal someone’s age, such as a graduation date or the ages of the applicant’s children. Recruiters and placement agencies are also prohibited from obtaining ages and providing them to their clients. Applicants of any age with the same qualifications must be given the same consideration for open positions. Texas Roadhouse, a Kentucky company, was sued for age discrimination last fall because older applicants were being rejected and older employees were not allowed to work in the front of the restaurant. Restaurants managers were told to look for younger people when they were hiring and young people were the only type pictured in the restaurant’s training materials. The case is still pending.
Once employed, workers over 40 are entitled to the same benefits and promotions as their younger co-workers, assuming they are equally qualified, and they cannot be terminated because of their age. In today’s economy, companies are looking to reduce costs and some terminate older, higher-paid employees when staff is cut. Other companies will deny older employees certain promotions or give them undesirable shifts or assignments to force them to quit. If you are over 40 and have been discriminated against in the workplace, contact Kentucky employment attorney Steven Frederick to discuss your case.
Actress’ lawsuit puts focus on age as job barrier; Associated Press; Lynn Elber; Dec 2, 2011