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Assistant comedy director launches age discrimination claim

Age discrimination in the workplace can occur in any industry and can take many forms.

The former assistant director on the US science comedy show The Big Bang Theory has recently filed a lawsuit against studio Warner Bros, alleging he was the victim of age discrimination.
Christopher Klausen had worked on the show from the very beginning, since its pilot episode in 2007. It is currently the most-watched TV show in the US, and second only to Friends for viewer numbers. However, despite his experience and record with the programme, he says that since he turned 50, studio and production staff increasingly sidelined him. He claims his workload was reduced, and after the eighth series his contract was illegally ended.
Klausen was fired by phone call after the eighth series. During the call, he asked for examples of the poor performance which is supposed to have occasioned the ending of his contract, which Warner Bros were not able to provide. The only reason that other staff members related better to the actors, the complaint alleges, was because they were younger – a clear matter of age discrimination.
The case parallels similar ones in the UK, including that of BBC newsreader Moira Stuart. Stuart left the BBC in 2007 after 30 years. She had recently lost her spot on current affairs programme Sunday AM, and was thought to be fed up with the BBC’s attitude towards older women. A number of MPs and well-known figures in broadcasting immediately called for Stuart, then 58, to be reinstated, accusing the BBC of age discrimination. Stuart was the first black female newsreader on TV, and it was widely speculated that her gender and age were the cause of her ousting.

In 2011, 53-year-old presenter Miriam O’Reilly won a six-figure payout from the BBC after a tribunal ruled that the corporation was guilty of age discrimination after it axed her from Countryfile. She claimed that ageism was “endemic” in broadcasting.

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