If you are age 40 or over and wrote or were interested in writing for television, a proposed settlement may affect your rights.
Seventeen television networks and studios and seven talent agencies have agreed, subject to Court approval, to settle age discrimination allegations in connection with the hiring and representation of television writers age 40 or over, in nineteen separate class action lawsuits, for a collective payment of $70,000,000 Insurance carriers are paying approximately two-thirds of the settlement amount. If you qualify, you may send in a claim form to get benefits and may comment on or object to the settlement. If you do not want to be part of the settlement, you can exclude yourself.
The settlement defines two classes (a) persons age 40 or over who have previously written for television, and (b) other persons age 40 or over who have been interested in writing for television. There are various qualifications and exclusions. If you believe that you may be a settlement class member, you can get more information, including a detailed notice, at the websites or telephone numbers below.
What's This About?
The separate lawsuits all claim that the networks, studios and talent agencies discriminate on the basis of age in their employment and representation decisions. The defendants (including ABC, APA, Carsey-Werner, CBS, Columbia TriStar Television, Inc., DW SKG TV LLC, formerly known as DreamWorks SKG TV LLC, Fox, NBC Universal, Paradigm, Shapiro-Lichtman, Sony Pictures Television Inc., Spelling Television, The Gersh Agency, The Endeavor Agency, The WB Television Network, Touchstone Television, TriStar Television, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox, UPN, UTA, Warner Bros. Television, William Morris Agency, and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC) deny that they discriminate, but believe it makes sense to end the litigation, which has been pending since 2000.Â The Court did not decide which side was right.
What does the Settlement Provide?
Of the $70 million settlement, the lawyers representing Plaintiffs and the Settlement Class (Class Counsel) estimate that about $43 million will be used to pay awards to Settlement Class Members, pay taxes on those awards, fund activities beneficial to the Settlement Class Members, and fund certain reserves required under the Settlement. One-third of the Settlement will be used to pay Class Counsel's court-approved contingent fee award. The remaining 6.7% will be used to pay and reimburse expenses related to litigation of the claims and notice and administration of this Settlement. Part of that expense portion will be contributed to fund programs for Settlement Class Members.
The share of the fund that each eligible claimant receives will be based on a formula that, once devised, will be submitted to the Court for approval. It will consider many factors, including your income from and qualifications for television writing.
How do you Ask for a Payment?
To qualify for a payment, you must submit a claim form. Call or visit a website below to get one. Claim forms are due by April 13, 2010.
What are your Other Options?
If you stay in the class, you may comment on the settlement by April 14, 2010. To preserve your right to sue any of the defendants yourself for past alleged age discrimination, you must exclude yourself by April 8, 2010. If you exclude yourself, you can
t get money from the settlement.Â The detailed notice explains how to exclude yourself or comment.Â If you do nothing, you will not receive a payment, but you will still give up any right you may have to sue defendants or their affiliates and certain others about alleged age discrimination that occurred prior to January 22, 2010.
The Court will hold a hearing in these cases, which is currently scheduled for May 5, 2010, (but which may be rescheduled) to consider whether to finally approve the settlement and the request for attorneys fees and costs. You may ask to speak at the hearing.
Can I consult with Class Counsel?
Yes. To consult with Class Counsel (led by Paul Sprenger of