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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. @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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?”.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.)

  10. @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.

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