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Age Discrimination in California: Warner Bros. Suffers Big Setback in Discrimination Suit

Back in August, a former assistant director of hit sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Warner Bros. Television in Los Angeles Superior Court after he was terminated by the network.

Recently, a judge has ruled that Klausen's claims were not preempted by federal labor law, which was a big part of Warner Bros. defense.

Back in August, a former assistant director of hit sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Warner Bros. Television in Los Angeles Superior Court after he was terminated by the network.

Recently, a judge has ruled that Klausen's claims were not preempted by federal labor law, which was a big part of Warner Bros. defense.

Klausen's Claims of Age Discrimination at Work

Christopher Klausen had worked for seven years as an assistant director for The Big Bang Theory prior to what he claims was wrongful termination based on his age. In his lawsuit, the former employee alleges that once he turned 50, the show's main actors started ostracizing him because of his age. Klausen claims that during the hit show's sixth season, his job responsibilities (including preparing the actors for scenes) were stripped from him and assigned to two younger, more inexperienced employees. Klausen also alleges that his employer told him that the younger directors "related to the actors better." The former employee alleges that he was then made to work with show extras, and after the eighth season, he wasn't offered a renewed contract.

Warner Bros. Moves Discrimination Lawsuit to California Federal Court

In response to Klausen's age discrimination suit, Warner Bros. removed the lawsuit from Los Angeles Superior Court to California federal court arguing that the plaintiff's state-based claims were preempted by federal labor law. Klausen then filed a motion to have the suit returned to Los Angeles Superior Court.

Warner Bros. asserted the defense that the discrimination complaint is actually barred under Section 301(a) of the National Labor Relations Act due to the fact that Klausen's employment was governed by two collective bargaining agreements that define circumstances under which employers may hire more assistant directors, the length of employment for assistant director positions, and even when these employees can be "downgraded" or "upgraded" from the positions in which they hold. Warner Bros. also argued that Klausen's suit belonged in federal court as an interpretation is needed for the collective bargaining agreements.

Judge Rules Against Warner Bros. Claims

Unfortunately for Warner Bros., U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder rejected the company's contentions and suggested that the case will not turn on a Directors Guild agreement. Snyder also wrote that an analysis of the former assistant director's claims by a judge and jury "is not dependent on how various terms or duties are defined under the CBA. Instead it will depend on evidence regarding plaintiff's experience as an employee on The Big Bang Theory, and how defendants altered plaintiff's role on the show over time." Snyder went on to say that the fact finder will use evidence to determine whether Klausen suffered an adverse employment action under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) - not the CBA. In addition to that, Klausen's age discrimination claim won't depend on whether the plaintiff was actually fired.

Snyder said, "under FEHA the decision not to renew an employment contract can constitute an adverse employment action."
While Warner Bros.' line of argument was hit with this setback, the case is far from over; the studio has asserted 35 other defenses, including that it had good cause not to renew Klausen's contract.

Read the original story: Warner Bros. Suffers Setback in Big Bang Theory Discrimination Suit via The Hollywood Reporter

Read the full ruling: Christopher Klausen vs. Warner Bros. Television et al.

More Stories on 'The Big Bang Theory' Age Discrimination Suit

  • 'Big Bang Theory Assistant Director Hits Warner Bros. with Age Discrimination Lawsuit via The Hollywood Reporter
  • The Big Bang Theory is Getting Sued, Get the Details via CinemaBlend.com
  • Who's Suing 'The Big Bang Theory' for Age Discrimination? via Inquisitr.com

Age Discrimination in California: Additional Resources

  • Age Discrimination Information: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Age Discrimination in California: What You Need to Know
  • Examples of Age Discrimination in California: Real-Life Cases
  • Filing an Age Discrimination Complaint in California: DFEH

If you feel that you have been suffering from age discrimination at work, contact our experienced California age discrimination attorneys for your free consultation today.

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