A CBS broadcast affiliate in Texas will pay $215,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by a female reporter, federal authorities say.
CBS Stations Group of Texas also will furnish significant equitable relief to settle the lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said.
CBS Stations Group of Texas is a division of New York-based CBS Corporation. CBS Corporation owns and operates a group of 29 television stations throughout the United States, including a Dallas/Fort Worth television station, KTXA Inc., locally known as “CBS 11.”
The EEOC charged in its suit that CBS violated federal law when it refused to hire Tammy Dombeck Campbell for a full-time traffic reporter position at the Dallas/Fort Worth station because of her age. The EEOC said that Campbell had worked for CBS 11 as a freelance, non-staff traffic reporter.
When the station’s morning full-time traffic reporter resigned in October 2014, the company initiated a search for a replacement. The CBS job announcement stated that “the ideal candidate” would have a strong knowledge of local traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and that the “applicant must have at least five years professional broadcasting experience.”
The EEOC said that CBS 11 hired a 24-year-old applicant for the full-time traffic reporter position. The younger applicant was a former NFL cheerleader, and the EEOC maintained that the she did not meet the hiring criteria CBS had advertised.
CBS 11 also had made an offer to a 27-year old applicant who accepted and then withdrew from the hiring process.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination against people age 40 or older. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. CBS Stations Group of Texas; Television Station KTXA and KTVT-TV, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-02624) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Under the consent decree signed by U.S. District Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, resolving the suit, CBS Stations Group of Texas will pay will pay $215,000 to Campbell and commits not to engage in age discrimination. The company will also provide training on the ADEA, publish a notice of employee rights, and report to the EEOC on its compliance with the requirements of consent decree.
“Tammy Campbell was clearly qualified for the position of traffic reporter,” Joel Clark, EEOC senior trial attorney for the Dallas District Office said in the EEOC’s announcement. “The EEOC argued to the court that CBS 11 preferred a younger, less qualified applicant, and that the employer defaulted to unfounded stereotypes about female reporters.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, “In explaining its decision, the company relied on what was called the ‘it’ factor. The EEOC was prepared to prove that, for Ms. Campbell, ‘it’ was her age. We hope that the resolution of this case will be another step forward in moving past ageist attitudes that can limit opportunities in the field of broadcast television.”
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