Judge boots out writer bias case

Writer plans appeal

A federal judge has dismissed a $138 million class-action lawsuit filed against CBS and the Writers Guild of America by a scribe who complained that an affirmative action program set up for Latino writers at the net was discriminatory.

Plaintiff Migdia Chinea-Varela sued after she discovered she would be making less than required guild minimums if she accepted a position on a CBS episodic. At the time, the net was participating in a WGA-approved program that allowed Latino scribes into the writing process on certain shows at half the normal pay rates.

On Monday in Los Angeles, U.S. District Court Judge J. Spencer Letts granted a defendants’ motion to dismiss. An order outlining the judge’s reasoning has yet to be filed.

“I think it’s an injustice,” Chinea-Varela said Tuesday from her home in Glendale. “Justice was not served — not for me, not for Hispanics.”

Chinea-Varela counts among her credits the films “Out of Danger,” “Rocket Man” and “Southern Mischief” and the TV shows “The Incredible Hulk,” “Punky Brewster,” “Phyllis” and “Fantasy Island.”

In her Dec. 15 lawsuit, Chinea-Varela alleged she and other Hispanic writers are being deliberately excluded from writing assignments because of their heritage, and sought compensatory damages for lost wages.

“The guild set up another category of pay — a lower category — by virtue of my ethnicity,” said Chinea-Varela, who did not accept a post at CBS and is studying law at UCLA.

The guild currently runs a similar program at ABC.

Chinea-Varela plans to appeal the judge’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “I just don’t see an end to this,” she said. “All I ever wanted to do was to write. Why not pay professional writers what they’re due?”