AARP joins age bias lawsuit

Group battling lack of representation for over-40 crowd

The American Assn. of Retired People has joined as co-counsel in 23 class-action age-bias lawsuits by TV scribes over 40 against nets, studios and agencies.

Org said it has asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to award over $200 million in damages and dismantle the “alleged discriminatory hiring system.” Defendants include Walt Disney Co., NBC, CBS, Fox Broadcasting, Viacom, Warner Bros. TV, DreamWorks and the William Morris Agency.

The AARP made the announcement Thursday at a news conference in Los Angeles, held to announce formation of a coalition to battle lack of representation of people over 40 in film and TV.

The suits stem from a single federal action, filed nearly two years in Los Angeles, alleging that systematic discrimination against older TV scribes has been pervasive since the early 1980s as networks and advertisers seek younger audiences by hiring younger writers. The AARP also joined that case as co-counsel.

According to the org, Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed the action earlier this year but suggested the case be refiled. Instead, attorneys decided to file the 23 state court cases several weeks ago.

Lead plaintiff in both the federal and state cases is Tracey Keenan Wynn, who is 56 and has been unable to find work over the past five years due to “pervasive” age discrimination. Wynn, whose work includes “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” is the son of Keenan Wynn and the grandson of Ed Wynn.

The federal action was based partly on a 1998 study commissioned by the Writers Guild of America West that showed sharply decreased employment opportunities for scribes over 40.

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