Media Silence and Age Discrimination

One reason there is so little media attention to the problem of age discrimination is that the media is part of the problem.

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NYTWhy is the media so oblivious to what almost anyone can see is blatant and systemic age discrimination in employment in the United States?

Could it be because media companies are employers too?

The New York Times Co. and its chief executive officer recently were sued  by a former ad executive for “age, gender and race” discrimination.  Tracy Quitasol, 51, said she was let go in January 2014  by her new boss, Meredith Levien, the chief revenue officer of the NTY Co.  An Asian-American, Quitasol was the head of the Times’ Idea Lab, which formulates new digital advertising programs, and the executive director of product marketing and ad platform innovations.

The Times contends that Quitasol was fired for cause and that it will vigorously defend the lawsuit..

Quitasol alleges in the lawsuit that the Times conducted a downsizing in 2013 that resulted in the layoff of  30 employees who were mostly older, minority group members.  In almost every case, she alleges, the employees were replaced with white employees under the age of 40.

The lawsuit states that during “two off-site meetings attended by all the advertising vice presidents, HR officials and Quitasol in September 2013, Levien said she would evaluate employees on whether they were ‘fresh to their career’ and ‘whether they have a family, what’s their situation.’”  Photographs of  staff members were displayed on a screen and, Quitasol alleges, Levien repeatedly said, ‘We want people to look like the people we are selling to” and asked questions clearly intended to determine the staffer’s “age, marital status and whether they had a family.”

Of course, the New York Times is not the only media outlet that faces accusations of age discrimination.

Google was recently sued for age discrimination. A Gannett-owned CBS TV  affiliate in Washington, DC, was criticized earlier this year by Fortune Magazine for posting a job advertisement for a “digital native” (which means a worker who is under the age of 40).  And CNN was sued last year by a long-time producer for age and race discrimination.

This blog recently reported about the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative in which America’s leading corporations plan to offer part-time and full-time jobs to “youth” between the ages of 16 and 24. The initiative violates the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1964 (ADEA), which prohibits using age as a consideration in hiring.  The Times published the press release on the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative without mentioning the ADEA violation and has ignored a request to either publish a correction or follow-up.

Author: pgb

Attorney at Law, author and blogger.

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