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SAG-AFTRA’s Gabrielle Carteris Blasts Ruling on Actor-Age Censorship Law

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris has blasted a federal judge’s recent ruling barring California’s legislation requiring that subscription entertainment database sites remove an actor’s age, if requested by the actor.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria issued the ruling on Feb. 20, backing IMDb’s 2016 lawsuit attempting to invalidate AB 1687. IMDb — a subsidiary of Amazon — had contended in its suit that the law, which applies only to subscription sites such as IMDb Pro, was unconstitutional.

The defendants in the suit are Secretary of State Xavier Becerra and SAG-AFTRA, which joined the suit as a defendant after campaigning vigorously for the law in 2016. The union has already declared it will appeal Chhabria’s ruling.

“Regrettably, the Court’s ruling failed to recognize the massive impact that age discrimination has on performers (and others) in the industry – something I have personally experienced, just like many of you,” Carteris said in a message sent to members Friday.

“It was particularly ironic that after the Court earlier denied our requests to take discovery and present evidence at a trial, the Court in its ruling complained that there was not enough evidence to prove the benefit of providing an opt-out right for birth dates on IMDb,” Carteris said. “SAG-AFTRA members understand there would be an immediate and significant reduction in age discrimination within the industry as a result of the change we were seeking.”

Carteris has insisted that she might not have been cast in “Beverly Hills 90210” as high school valedictorian and newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman had her actual age been known at the time. She was 29 when she was she was cast to play the 15-year-old Zuckerman. “Beverly Hills 90210” aired from 1990 to 2000.

Here’s her entire message to members:

Dear Member,
 We are continuing our fight to protect SAG-AFTRA members from age discrimination in casting.

Combating discrimination and harassment is at the core of what our union stands for. That’s why we were so disappointed by the recent court ruling invalidating California’s AB 1687, which gave individuals the right to opt-out of having their age information published online without their consent.

Regrettably, the Court’s ruling failed to recognize the massive impact that age discrimination has on performers (and others) in the industry – something I have personally experienced, just like many of you. It was particularly ironic that after the Court earlier denied our requests to take discovery and present evidence at a trial, the Court in its ruling complained that there was not enough evidence to prove the benefit of providing an opt-out right for birth dates on IMDb. SAG-AFTRA members understand there would be an immediate and significant reduction in age discrimination within the industry as a result of the change we were seeking.

In finding the law to be a First Amendment problem, the Court also wrongly ignored the commercial nature of IMDb’s database operation and its subscriber programs, applying standards that are not intended for commercial speech that has a lesser level of protection.

SAG-AFTRA will be appealing this decision with the continued support of our allies. I know it has been a frustrating road, but rest assured, we are in this fight for the long term and will continue to battle on every front until we end the scourge of age discrimination.

Strength in unity,

Gabrielle Carteris
President

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