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South Florida TV company faces more age discrimination claims

Age discrimination in the workplace is often a way for companies to try to push older employees out. Sometimes employers might discriminate based on incorrect stereotypes which say that older employees are less competent than younger ones.

Other times, age discrimination is an unfair way for companies to cut costs because older workers often earn higher salaries and benefits. In some fields such as TV broadcasting, age discrimination can simply be about looks. In all cases, discrimination based on age is wrong and often illegal.

Allegations of age discrimination at a TV news studio in Boston have strong ties to South Florida. The studio's parent company is Sunbeam Television of Miami.

Sunbeam Television lost an age discrimination lawsuit last year stemming from the 2006 firing of a 52-year-old health reporter in Miami. The woman was successfully able to prove that her employers had engaged in age discrimination and a jury awarded her $937,000 in damages.

Now many believe that the same company is allowing its studio in Boston to practice age discrimination yet again. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) represents 400 broadcasters in New England, including on-air personalities from Sunbeam's Boston studio WHDH-TV.

AFTRA is concerned by the station's decision to continually hire young on-air personalities, perhaps favoring them over older and more experienced news veterans. The station even has the youngest anchor team on Boston television.

Contract negotiations between WHDH, Sunbeam and the Union have stalled, and AFTRA's assistant executive director says that allegations of age discrimination are at least part of the reason for the breakdown.

He notes that age discrimination "is the dirty little secret of this business."

AFTRA would like to implement additional training as well as the creation of an employee committee at the station to deal with age discrimination. WHDH denies that any discrimination has taken place, and they believe their current training is adequate.

Source: Boston.com, "Union says age is issue at WHDH," Johnny Diaz, 12 April 2011

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