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May 29, 2015 Practice Points

Tinseltown Turmoil: Hollywood Criticized for Lack of Female Directors

By Aaron VanNostrand

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has launched a petition demanding that the government investigate the cause of the disparity between the number women and the number of men in prominent director roles in Hollywood.

This comes after a letter was sent by Melissa Goodman and Ariela Migdal of the ACLU to Kevin Kish of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The letter outlined some of the ACLU's findings that were indicative of discrimination against women. Among the findings were "only 1.9% of directors of the top-grossing 100 films of 2013 and of 2014 were women" and "[i]n an analysis of more than 220 television shows, representing about 3500 total episodes, women were only 14% of directors in 2013–2014."

Many in Hollywood, including actor George Clooney and actress Rose Byrne, have voiced similar sentiments to those expressed by the ACLU. Byrne stated that the situation in Hollywood is "…legitimate discrimination based on gender, which is illegal."

42 U.S.C. § 2000e–2 prohibits the refusal or failure of an employer

…to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges or employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or … to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This is not the first time questions have been raised about gender discrimination in the entertainment industry. The Federal Equal Employment Commission investigated allegations of gender and race discrimination in the 1960s and 1970s as well. At the time, steps were taken and settlements were reached with the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers and multiple unions, however the oversight of said organizations had ended by the late 1970s.

Keywords: minority trial lawyer, litigation, gender discrimination, Hollywood, movie director

Aaron VanNostrand is with Goldberg Segalla in Buffalo, New York.

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