TV Reporters Lose Age Discrimination Dispute

William Schechner (via SJ Mercury Blog)

Former CBS TV reporters, who lost their jobs in a 2008 cost-cutting move by their San Francisco affiliate station, have also lost age discrimination claims in a federal appeals court.

William Schechner and John Lobertini, former news reporters, sued KPIX-TV in San Francisco alleging discrimination based on age and gender.

Schechner was 66 and Lobertini 47 when they were laid off in 2008 as part of a 14-employee cutback.  The station said it released general assignment reporters based on the date of their contract expiration.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals found they failed to make a case of disparate treatment based solely on statistics.  “These statistics mush show a stark pattern of discrimination unexplainable on grounds other than age,” Judge William Fletcher wrote.

Schechner and Lobertini supplied an analysis showing start age disparities between on-air talent who were retained and those laid off.  The evidence carried the minimum initial burden in the discrimination claim, but KPIX offered a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its layoffs.

It let go of general assignment reporters based on the date of contract expiration.  Schechner and Lobertini failed to show this was merely a pretext for age discrimination.

The two men had signed contracts shortly before the layoffs.

The appeals court upheld the judgment in favor of KPIX by retired U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel.

Case:  Schechner v. KPIX-TV,  No. 11-15294

Photo: via Mercury News A&E Blog


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