In Schechner v. KPIX-TV, a California court of appeal rejected the age discrimination claims of TV newscasters William Schechner (age 66) and John Lobertini (47). They alleged that KPIX laid them off because of age. KPIX urged that reduced advertising revenues caused by competition from on-line news outlets and the economic downturn forced the company to layoff news reporters. In dismissing the suit, the court relied largely on the same-actor inference. The "same-actor inference" means that when the manager alleged to have discriminated against the plaintiff is the same manager who hired (or promoted) plaintiff into the job, the law will infer that discrimination did not occur (absent more compelling evidence to the contrary). In this case, the court observed that the same company executive who made the decision to layoff Schechner and Lobertini had also earlier accommodated Schechner's request to change to a part-time schedule, and had renewed Schechner's contract on three prior occasions, the last time just months before the layoff. The court ruled that plaintiffs did not offer evidence of discrimination to controvert the same-actor inference.
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Same actor inference helps TV station defeat age discrimination claim by news reporters
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