Cloudy With A Chance of Dismissal? Weatherman Sues CBS Over Gender and Age Discrimination

Kyle Hunter, a television weatherman, has sued CBS for sex and age discrimination for what he claims is an overriding preference given to young attractive women to give the weather forecasts. We have followed this controversy in earlier stories over whether attractive looks can be an appropriate (even an overriding) criteria for anchors, waitresses, or other professions. Hunter insists that he encountered a cold front at every term.

What is different about this lawsuit is that we have previously seen women anchors sue over such discrimination.

Hunter was a weatherman for Fox5 in San Diego but says that his gender and age has effectively barred him from the air. He is suing for unfair discrimination under California employment law on the basis of gender.

However, he alleges that he was only passed over twice for positions. He alleges that he was not even given an interview for either job despite strong credentials. Yet, his complaint insists that the stations “only want attractive young women, and only attractive young women, broadcasting the weather.”

This issue has long intrigued me. Most anchors and television personalities are attractive people. They are often revealed to abroad as mere “news readers.” It seems an act of tremendous willful blindness to ignore that looks are an obvious advantage for such work. Hunter himself is attractive and likely was preferred to less striking candidates in his earlier positions. The question is whether restaurants, news organizations, and shops should be able to openly hire people for their looks or gender as better for business. Actors and actresses are picked for their looks to pull people into theaters. Why can’t television studios do the same? Anchor positions and other television spots have never gone to the most qualified journalists . . . hence the expression “I have a face for radio.”

The obvious concern is a slippery slope. If a business can prefer women to work at Victoria’s Secret, can they openly prefer attractive young women or bar types of religious garb? What about restaurants like Hooter’s that draw customers in part on the promise of young attractive waitresses? We have seen such lawsuits even from strippers who are hired entirely for their looks.

We have long recognized the existence of bona fide employment qualifications, but we have danced around questions over whether businesses can prefer attractiveness and gender as more compelling images for attracting customers.

In the case of on-air forecasters, they are hired for their skills but work with a larger staff and often repeated independently generated data. They, like other television personalities, are expected to “connect” with viewers, particularly among the critical demographic audience. However, if you accept this reality, you must face the question of social judgments that differentiate between gender. Women anchors have long objected that studios reflect a social preference for younger women but not necessarily younger male anchors.

The one thing that is clear is that such judgments should never be applied to law professors where we only improve with age like fine wine.

While CBS is denying such discrimination, it is widely viewed as the standard in the industry. No one would argue that Chelsea Clinton was renewed as a journalist with NBC based on her skills or experience or perceived talents. She was renewed because she was a celebrity draw from the right demographic niche.

What do you think about the right of studios to such criteria as age and gender in selecting television personalities?

Of course, younger weathermen might need a bit of maturing in the job:

Source: Daily Mail

50 thoughts on “Cloudy With A Chance of Dismissal? Weatherman Sues CBS Over Gender and Age Discrimination

  1. When this dog is sitting at the counter next my my pal (never call him an owner) at Hooters we watch the weather station on tv with the sound down. There is an announcer there who has a twin who works at the same Hooters.
    It is great fun to walk in and ask her the forecast.

    This guy ought to get out of television if he thinks his brain matters or talents other than his appearance and his accent.

  2. I, for one, have no problem with attractiveness or gender being a qualifying characteristic of somebody whose main job is to be seen.

    The truth is the “qualifications” for these jobs are really just the ability to read a script, sound natural doing it, and finish it on time to the second. Often with no rehearsal.

    This is not a natural skill held by everyone, by the way, but it is not rare, so once that threshold is met there is very little remaining in the “skill” box to distinguish between dozens of applicants except the OTHER important quality: Camera presence. They have to appear personable, without sweating under lights, their body language has to be right. Youth and attractiveness and being a female helps, we subsconsciously cut people slack for all three of those things.

    For men, people subconsciously defer to “seniority,” and baritones, so those help sell an anchor.

    I do not frequent Hooters, or strip clubs, but I see no reason why such establishments should be prohibited from defining an audience and putting on a show for them.

    My daughter earned money as a print and runway model while attending college; I do not see why it should be okay to restrict employment to very attractive women in the model case, (where their clothing choices are also dictated, and often revealing), but not in the case where they also serve wings and beer.

  3. I believe the answer is extremely easy. Let all businesses hire and fire anybody they want. Discrimination makes perfect sense to me. Who is the government to tell businesses what to do. Government has no place in businesses. If I owned a business, I want to hire and fire who I want. If I owned a restaurant, I want to have the right to choose who I want to serve or not to serve. If I owned a hotel, I want the right to choose who stays and who don’t. I want to discriminate who I want to marry. I want to discriminate who my friends are. I want to discriminate what college I go to as they discriminate who they let in. We are supposed to discriminate. It’s part of our natural rights. I don’t want mammy and daddy government telling me who I can discriminate. It’s my life so leave me alone.

  4. @Gunderson: Who is the government to tell businesses what to do

    What makes business so special that they should be immunized from majority rule? When the majority of people decides some business practice is harming people, the majority can pass a law to prevent it.

  5. I’m so sick of Hollywood prettying up everything to the point of pablum.
    Presentable is far from ‘perfect’….give me personality and spare the bust!

    It’s like which ‘Cracker’ would you want to watch…the original Brit version or the prettied up Americanized one?

  6. The fact that he is youthful and good looking does undercut his argument. CBS may well have a bias toward females for their weather-reader positions. I don’t like the concept of trading on sex when there is no compelling reason to do so. Victoria’s Secret may have a compelling, economically based reason for having female floor staff, but weather-readers? I don’t see it. But I think it’s such a diminished standard (Can read a teleprompter, presentable.) that some reason for the preference should be demonstrable. Otherwise it is sexism and possibly discriminatory.

    A couple of the stations in my neck of the woods tout the fact that they have meteorologists that do their own analysis and forecasting. If the position advertised was for a meteorologist and a male with a good history of education and forecasting was passed over for younger and pretty females that had fewer credentials I could see a much stronger complaint though. Likewise if the sexes were reversed, or if race was a factor.

  7. roger gunderson:

    are you serious?

    By the way Thomas Sowell thinks the same way. In fact he says that government caused racism in the south by making the laws they did.

    That is how it was in the past. You kind of wonder why real wages for workers doubled in the 1800’s when employers were basically able to hire and fire at will and now real wages are in the toilet.

    I have been discriminated against [fired, canned, axed] a couple of times for health reasons and all I say is go f&%$#@ yourself and good riddance to bad rubbish. I have a better life now than I ever would have if I hadnt been fired. I’d still be making sh!@#% for money and have no time for myself and always be at the boss’s beck and call. Just call me Step and Fetch It.

    Most people have been sold a bill of goods, they like the security of 9-5 when in reality there is no security in 9-5. The only real security is yourself. If more people would realize the corporate world is killing them and start small businesses of their own, this would be a lot better country all around.

    A business gets too big and then something happens to it. One company I worked for gave good raises and had a very good retirement plan and people liked their jobs. It grew and hired a corporate CEO to run day to day operations and the owner stepped back. It just became another corporation which caused gastric distress, literally.

  8. But what if the station thinks credentials do not matter at all? What if their polls and studies indicate that credentials do not matter at all?

    A thousand people will apply to have the insanely easy job of reading the weather in front of a camera, so if credentials, degrees, schooling and intelligence are not necessary to do the job, how should the station decide which ONE of the thousand should get the job?

    Why hire a meteorologist? They may already have one, or a firm that provides their meteorological expertise and forecast, and writes their script.

    If credentials are meaningless to their viewers, the obvious solution for a media outlet in the business of presentation is to find a presenter their viewers like to look at.

    The TV and movie industry aren’t filled with pretty actresses for nothing, they are there because attractive women really do attract viewers, and producers know that.

    Plus it is harmless; why does anybody care if somebody they do not know is leering at a woman on TV they do not know, and she volunteered for the eye candy position? I do not understand why anybody thinks this particular decision needs to be neutral, when there is really no objective criteria to consult and the subjective criteria of appearance, presentation, voice, energy and likability have GOT to be considered.

  9. All weathermen/women lie. It’s a grand conspiracy. I take an umbrella and it doesn’t rain. I put on boots and mittens and it doesn’t snow. I plan an outdoor garden party and a tornado drops by. It’s a sick, sick conspiracy.

    Now global warming … (chuckle, chuckle … gotta go)

  10. Bron1, March 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    …”You kind of wonder why real wages for workers doubled in the 1800′s when employers were basically able to hire and fire at will and now real wages are in the toilet.”
    oh please. Maybe that was the case in the 1800’s but, despite the efforts of the Fundy right and Corporate evil doers, we are not kicked back to there quite yet……

    Stagnant wages coupled with corruption and CEO rape of the trusting American public have and will take a toll. It’s nothing new…and your statement being wrong…that’s nothing new either . ;)

  11. Roger Gundeson:

    We all appreciate that moving portrayal of 19th Century thinking on the issue of racial, sexual, gender, and age discrimination in employment. Did you type it while whistling “Dixie.” dressed in “black face,” tap dancing, and doing your “mammy” government imitation, too?

    How we luv ya? How we luv ya?

  12. Tony C: “But what if the station thinks credentials do not matter at all? What if their polls and studies indicate that credentials do not matter at all?”

    Well, at what point does a preference become a discriminatory act that is actionable? Having no credentials is as much as a slippery slope as having credentials that are too narrow, or more to the point, narrow to the extent that they disproportionately favor one sex or race or religion etc. No credentials can easily give rise to subconscious impulses to discriminate.

    That’s why I said they need to have some kind of criterion. The demographic of their viewers would be a good, business related reason to base a choice on. I have every confidence that there are no credentials for a weather-reader required except read a teleprompter, be presentable, appeal to the audience demographic, whatever that viewer demo may be.

    The entertainment industry, even at the level of weather-reading, may well be an industry that has an automatic pass when it come to many forms of discrimination. I think that breaks down though when there are no criteria of any sort to be applied to a decision and you have a station manager that could say- ‘we have no hiring criteria here and I hire females for everything because I like females.’ Or Caucasians, or African Americans, or males. CBS is probably safe as long as they can articulate a good business reason for wanting a female in the job like, ‘our demographic likes females, it brings viewership.’

  13. LottaKatz,
    Have you read my post to you above? You should have.
    Then I presume you can’t or won’t answer whether you are accusing me of being deceitful etc here Well, do you?

  14. Gunderson

    The government of the United States has EVERY right to enforce the values of liberty and equality established for us by the US Constitution. Those values and our insistance they be accepted and rigorously enforced by and for all Americans are what constitutes American exceptionalism.

  15. Woosty:

    “It’s nothing new…and your statement being wrong…that’s nothing new either.”

    Real wages did double in the 1800’s, look it up.

  16. Bron,
    So, answer my question. What if any military service did you do?
    None, I presume.

    i asked you after you scorned mine on the other thread. Answer now or be called a coward.

  17. Looks like gender discrimination to me….. Be the hey at least he is nice to subject to death in the US yet…

  18. @lottakatz: Well, at what point does a preference become a discriminatory act that is actionable?

    I think that is so hard to define objectively that I would leave it up to a jury, but in general when the “preference” is just personal prejudice with no rationale.

    But there is a rationale for casting a 22 year old, thin and pretty girl as the love interest in a movie, versus a 65 year old grandmother. There is a rationale for hiring young college women at Hooters or other such places, they have carved out a PG-14 position between G-rated “restaurant” and X-rated “strip club” that sells non-explicit sex appeal. (non-explicit in the sense that they couldn’t be arrested for wearing the same costume on the street.)

    Hooters is a form of entertainment. So is the news and weather and anything else on TV, you can get the news and forecast without any human presenting it at all (just read the paper, watch the weather channel, or go online).

    As entertainment, I think all channels boil down to personal preference, and there is a rationale for choosing attractive actors the producer thinks will get the highest ratings.

  19. Didn’t some place in Europe have topless newscasters? If the women would just take their clothes off, it would eliminate all the hypocrisy. As for technical training, I’m sure that being able to distinguish an H from an L is all that is required.

  20. Maybe if this guy had won five Buckeye Newshawk Awards and the coveted Silver Sow Award for hog reporting, he wouldn’t be looking for a new job.

  21. LOL, an excellent vid Tony C. Thanks. That pretty well sums it up doesn’t it?

    Yea, a Silver Sow Award would help, no doubt. :-)

  22. ID707:

    if you are thinking I am anon, you would be wrong. You can ask Gene H if you dont believe me.

    I have never insulted any one’s service and would not.

    I think anon was wrong to say that about you. No matter what he/she may think of you personally, denigrating ones service is pretty low.

  23. Pete, Oh my :-) I think that’s the reaction CBS (or any network) can dreams about from its weather report.

  24. id707,

    I think you may be confused. Bron is not anon and while I disagree with almost everything Bron says and in his choice of operating principles, he has never shown anything but respect for the men and women of our Armed Services to my knowledge.

  25. My nephew is a TV weatherguy (a degree in communications and certified by the national weather service – which requires a hard course of instruction and test one has to pass). He feels this guy is wrong, they have to hire the person that gets (or they think will get) the ratings.
    (I have asked him “How is it with all the computer models and science you have you are wrong an awful lot of the time?” He pretended I never asked. (*

  26. Did I write Bron, of course it was ANON.
    anon1, March 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm
    You’ve amply demonstrated you’re a paranoid conspiracy theorist troll.
    I am pleased to know you serve[d] past tense in the Army.

    Our Army and its members and its country deserves far better than crapola. It’s good to know you’re out and they and we are safe from you.

    Piss off. Sir.

    My apologies to Bron. You have been the victim of my mistake in using names and mistakenly accused. Again my humblest apologies.
    Thanks, Gene H.. Writing stuff at 1 AM and at 75 years is not a wise idea.

    ANON, show your mil record, if you have one. I gave mine..and you disparaged me.

  27. ID707:

    no worries. You are a gentleman and so I assumed it was a mistake.

    By the way what has been your experience with the health care in Sweden (right?)?

    I am having a conversation on another blog with a Dr. who wrote a very negative piece about government controlled health care. Not that I agree with government control but what is the real story with it. I imagine it is rationed to some extent (and we certainly ration it here but by the individual and his doctor not a panel).

    What has been your experience? Positive and negative. What is the tax level in Sweden? How much does health care cost per capita?

    Do Swedes have the same maladies we do? What is the cancer survival rate and what is the average life span?

    How do doctors treat you?

  28. @Bron: I have read a piece before in which Swedes were very satisfied with their health care, in fact far more so than Americans. In Sweden, by the way, the nationalized health care is not exclusive; citizens can use private doctors if they wish, and even buy insurance for private care.

    In America we already have an example of successful socialized medicine and hospitals: Veteran’s healthcare is entirely run by the Veteran’s Administration, which owns the hospitals and has doctors on fixed salaries. The VA consistently scores in the top few percent of hospitals on both subjective and objective measurements of performance; including the most cost-effective care. They are the top hospitals in the USA and no for-profit chain ever does better than the VA healthcare system, either in cost-effectiveness or quality of care.

    All health care is “rationed,” there are only so many doctors, and only so much time and money and beds. The proper way to ration it, in my opinion, is to do as much good as possible with the resources available.

    One route to that is the Swedish method, or the VA method, or the Canadian method, or the British method: Hire doctors on salary (and all of these existing systems prove there is no shortage of excellent doctors happy to work for a $180K salary, which is about their median earnings anyway), give them a budget to work with, let them make their decisions and audit both the decisions and the way the budget is being spent.

    For Americans (or Canadians, or Europeans, or anybody else in the free world) nationalized healthcare would not interfere with anybody’s right to travel, and (like Sweden) it is not necessary to force doctors to work within “the system,” private hospitals can exist. For example, doctors could get together and build a private surgical theatre for about $250K, and rent it to other private doctors when they weren’t using it.

    Rationing is a red herring. We ration transplants, and those are life or death decisions: There just aren’t enough resources (in that case, donated organs) to save everybody, so boards have to decide how to do the most good with the resources they have. That is what the VA does on a broader scale, and why their patients are more satisfied with their healthcare than most patients are.

  29. Medical care here is rationed everyday. It is called precertification. Insurance company denies the request for care, treatment, op, procedure, meds. They hasve effectively rationed your care and the decision is often made by a bvureaucrat, or maybe a nurse, often unfamiliar with the procedure/illness for which the request was made.
    (And we do have socialized medicine. Each person’s premiums, within the specific ins company pays for you when you are sick and I am well and vice-versa.)

  30. Bron and others respondees,
    I’m glad I held back, It is not particularly difficult to explain but here some very good insight has been offered.

    My chief complaints as a patient has not been with the system, but with that the doctors at times are incompetent. Aside from that it works very well.

    Thanks for the opportunity. Glad I waited, you got good info from others meanwhile.

    It is pre-birth to grave service. Kids are well-educated health and sex wise here.
    Presumptive parents are well-informed during compensated work time.
    The whole system watchs over periodically all childhood health conditions.
    Medical care for children < 19 i
    s free of any charge.

    As an adult, you pay a very nominal charge for doctor and specialist visits. Many treatments are at no charge, for example chemotherapy (no chemo cost which is actually for the platina compounds very expensive) also for radiation treatment. Diagnostics (CAT scan, ultra-sound, lab work, ) are free. My bypass and cancer operations were nothing to mention costwise for the operations or after care.
    The operation is free. You only pay a nominal fee for your food per day.
    Annual medical fees are capped at a very low level (<usd 200). After 10 doc visits you've reached the cap.

    Drugs are subventioned and are purchased by a central organizationj who then deliver them to the retailers, both state and private owned. After each purchase is subsidized on a sliding percent, starting low and increasing. By the time you reach the annual cap (<usd200), the percent is 85%.
    Costs, have only one ex as I use it even since it was taken off the subvention list and pay myself for it. It is atorvastatin, standard in the usa, but got so popis here that it was too expensive. the patent has lapsed and generiics will come. 14 tab at 5 mg costs me under usd20 (two week supply) I get most of my drugs delivered in plastic minibags detachable from a roll in dose portiions at the date/time interval prescribed. 2 weeks at a time.

    Suing doctors, hospitals just isn't done here. Why? Don't know.

    The bureaucrats set the standards, the county politicians set the budget, ordering treatments in bulk, and the clinics/hospitals work their budgets.
    Private care, as mentioned above is available. If you don't want to wait a year for a hip or knee operation your private insurance may help there.

    The climate is not very conducive to exercise, but swedes love the outdoors, and nature is very near here. Obesity is practically unseen, but type 2 diabetics is a problem too. The main young smoking group are girls, competing of course, Guys don't.

    Rationing is a guideline provided, but don't think anybody suffers other than the pain waiting for hip operations. The health people are very conscientious. Rationing decisions are made by your doctor or a doctor panel at the specialist level, for ex. bypass operations

    Health costs are half yours, including admin overhead. Medical results are equal if not higher than yours. An american billionairress endowed usd 500 million to karolinska institute for research on alternate and complementary care. we were happy for that. the first pacemaker was designed and used by a swedish doctor and an engineer here. but that's brag. although true.
    taxes are high but not due to health care. healthy citizens live and work longer.

    Doctors treat you like humans, very much so. No complaints except for one who lied me in the face—an exception. The time of the Ford assembly line technique ended in the 70's. TV comedy helped kill it.

    Nobody is trying to take away women's rights. They are instead studying how they can do more about women's heart attacks, which kills more than breast cancer.

    Any Q's? And thanks again for excellent info from the others.

  31. What this guy’s mistake was that he should have changed his name to Geraldo Rivera just like Gerald Michael Rivera did changing his name just enough to make him sound Hispanic so that he had a better chance of taking advantage of the new anti-discrimination laws that had been put in place back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Because of the fact that persons of White European decent were (are) more likely to land a good paying job (or ANY job for that matter) than a person of color…(that is, any color other than white). I know…because I am white and have wondered why I don’t see and haven’t seen very many people of “color” in my end of the Entertainment Industry. I’m a sculptor and prop maker in Hollywood. And I would suspect the reason why I don’t see very many (practically none really) black sculptors in my industry is because first of all…I think that there must be NO art programs in many or most inner city schools such as Los Angeles that would educate and encourage people of color to participate in this wonderful medium.

    There are quite a few Hispanic sculptors in my union…most are from South of the Border…which is interesting, who have emigrated here either legally or illegally. But the point is, I have to say that I am so used to seeing mostly MALE and a tiny handful of female sculptors all mostly of European decent working in this industry. I think we have one token black guy who is the coolest dude. So it comes down to a form of bigotry really. I don’t believe in racism since there is only ONE race on this planet…the Human Race.

    Personally, I never watch ANY Corporate Main-Stream “News?” casts because of the very fact that they are commercialized, plastic, socially retarded, biased (for the most part), BORING, full of half truths, propaganda and out and out lies…you know, like Faux News…a.k.a. Fox “News?”.

  32. Blaise
    Let me kiss your feet. Such a refreshing voice.
    As for news, only read papers, but even there they are biased, but evenly so. Alternately standing first on one foot and shifting to the other. That’s nytimes and wapo am thinking of.

  33. @Blaise: It isn’t bigotry if they do not choose to do it. I do not think people in Hollywood are saying “I refuse to use a black sculptor.” I have some limited experience (not acting experience) with the local live theatre scene, and I haven’t seen that kind of bigotry. Everybody works with anybody, or at least anybody reliable.

  34. leejcaroll: ” Medical care here is rationed everyday. It is called precertification. Insurance company denies the request for care, treatment, op, procedure, meds”


    It’s also rationed on political and religious basis’ by the states and Federal government if you’re a female but that’s a discussion on another thread. :-)

    I’m having to research Medicare and in major part it’s a swamp once you get into the co-pays and deductibles and the like- it’s a prepaid insurance program that at least is cost-effective for many people and employers though. It seems to be a pretty egalitarian and effective plan though.

    I saw two stories this morning in other blawgs, this is one of them:

    “Portuguese death rate rise linked to pain of austerity program”

    They’re cutting back on their public medical system and that’s taking a toll and will continue to do so.

    And the other one is that the Republicans have released their brand new, shiny, same old budget which includes a voucher system to assist in the purchase of private health insurance to replace Medicare for those 55 and under. Which is actually kinda’ sorta’ the plan we have under the health care act for everybody else. (That has always been a greatly flawed plan IMO.)

    Seriously, the Republican plan to deal with the baby boomers is just to kill them. Alan Grayson’s famous comment is as applicable to the entire of the Republican health care vision as it was to a non-Medicare health care plan from Republicans.

  35. Our medical facilities do take paying foreign (not immigrants, they’re covered) patients. Only oil sheiks need apply.
    And don’t immigrate. No jobs, Only turnover is in the left wind political parties.

  36. TonyC. I agree with you and can say that I may be biased myself just from my own observations from working in the Entertainment Industry here in Hollywood. I haven’t done theatre in decades and even then, I was an actor and not behind the scenes so much. But in agreement with you, even back in the late seventies and early eighties when I was in theatre, I was in small-town theatre in a southwestern town where it was mostly white and Hispanic and families intermarried all the time and still do. So my theatre experience was with mostly white and Hispanic theatre folk. That’s not to say that there weren’t/aren’t people of Black African ancestry living there…but perhaps they like the rest of our country, reflect the percentage of their specific group in line with the rest of the population of other ethnicities, whites of European ancestry included. Perhaps the 12% of the American population of Black African Americans is reflected in the small membership of my union which amounts to about 200 to 250 members. But even in that group, I would think I would see at least a dozen people of Black African decent there if it were to reflect a more balanced volume of members. I guess I’m just wondering where all the Black sculptors are.

  37. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and
    gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her
    ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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