In previous blogs, we have discussed how Hollywood actresses are experiencing a wage gap. Many famous stars have discussed how women are paid less than men in the film and television industry. It turns out Hollywood has a very strong age bias. However, are there any examples of age discrimination in Hollywood?
Although men in the television and film industry likely experience rejection based on age, the problem appears far worse for women. Several actresses have recently spoken to the press about their experiences being turned down for roles, even though in many cases, they were still in their twenties!
For example, consider Elizabeth Banks’ recent interview with Glamour where she claimed she was turned down for the role of Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (the movie came out in 2002). Elizabeth Banks’ was only 28 years old at the time. Kirsten Dunst, who was 18, was offered the role instead. Actor Tobey Maguire, who played Peter Parker (Spiderman), was 27 years old when the movie was filmed.
Actress Olivia Wilde went through a similar experience while auditioning for The Wolf of Wall Street. Wilde was turned down for the roll of Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife, despite being 28 years old and ten years younger than DiCaprio.
This example may suggest women in film and television have an ‘expiration date’. In fact, these exact words were used by former Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall. Cattrall suggested women reach their expiration in the television and film industry at 35 years old.
Are These Examples of Age Discrimination?
Although the examples listed above discuss how several prominent actresses have been turned down for roles, it would not constitute age discrimination. Keep in mind, federal protections under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act only apply for workers 40 years old and older. However, we can use another recent example to discuss a likely case of age discrimination.
Warner Bros. Television recently settled an age discrimination lawsuit with the former assistant director of The Big Bang Theory. According to the lawsuit, the assistant director was ostracized and eventually terminated after turning 50-years-old.
When workers 40 years and older are targeted for wrongful termination or harassment based on their age, it is time to call up an employment law attorney to start exploring options.