LOS ANGELES--()--Ten thousand television writers penned a happy ending to their class action age discrimination lawsuit against International Creative Management, Inc. (ICM) today, settling the first of 23 class actions for $4.5 million and programmatic relief designed to enhance work opportunities. The ICM case is one of 12 against talent agencies and represents about three or four percent of industry-wide exposure in the eight-year old TV Writers Age Discrimination Litigation, according to Paul Sprenger, Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs, of Sprenger + Lang, Washington, DC.
“The settlement agreement with ICM provides these talented television writers with a fair resolution to their claims”
The industry-wide litigation was instituted in federal court in 2000 and currently consists of 23 class actions in California state court against the major TV networks and production studios, including ABC, CBS, Disney, Fox, NBC Universal, Columbia, Warner Brothers and talent agencies ICM, Creative Artists, Endeavor, Paradigm and Wm. Morris.
ICM is the fourth largest talent agency in terms of representation of TV writers with about 14% under contract. ICM and all but one of the cases are pending before Judge Emile Elias in Los Angeles Superior Court, who is expected to provide notice of the settlement to class members including the procedure for seeking monetary awards and non-monetary benefits. Judge Elias is expected to conduct a hearing later this year at which time she will consider the settlement terms and, assuming she finds them fair and reasonable, grant plaintiffs’ motion for final approval. Class members may obtain claim forms from plaintiffs’ counsel upon the issuance of the settlement notice – monetary awards to class members will not be made until at least thirty days after the deadline to file claims and approval by the Court.
The settled case, Edwards, et al v. International Creative Management, Inc. (ICM), alleged that the more than 150 named plaintiffs and others like them – television writers who were aged 40 and older after October 22, 1996 – were victims of systematic age discrimination by talent agents, who aided and abetted networks and studios by refusing to represent and refer older writers for work at the production studios. In the 11 cases against the networks and studios, plaintiffs allege systemic failure to hire older TV writers.
In addition to the $4.5 million payment, ICM agreed to establish an independent task force to examine its representation practices, and to participate conditionally in a job relief program that will promote the top 25 percent of older television writers based on script evaluations by a neutral panel qualified experts.
“The settlement agreement with ICM provides these talented television writers with a fair resolution to their claims,” said Steve Sprenger of Sprenger + Lang, lead trial counsel for the plaintiffs. “However, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to get these older writers the programmatic and monetary relief they deserve.”
Steve Sprenger is a member of the nationally established father-son class action litigation team at Sprenger + Lang, which his father, long time civil rights litigator Paul Sprenger, founded in 1977. The TV Writers’ litigation team is chaired by Paul Sprenger and includes trial and appellate specialists Steve Sprenger, Maia Caplan and Tom Osborne, who direct more than 40 lawyers in six law firms and organizations, primarily in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. The firms are Sprenger + Lang; Kator Parks and Weiser; AARP Foundation Litigation; Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dorhmann & Sommers; Katz, Marshall & Banks and; Blecher & Collins.
For more information about the procedural history of the television writers cases and to download the settlement papers, please visit www.writerscase.com. For a copy of the consent decree, contact Jamie Diaferia at (212) 687-0935 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sprenger + Lang PLLC, with offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., has obtained the country’s largest age discrimination judgments on behalf of thousands of older workers as well as classes of tens of thousands of women and minority discrimination victims. Sprenger & Lang has successfully represented classes of plaintiffs against companies such as Morgan Stanley, CBS, C.H. Robinson, New York Life, Northwest Airlines, First Union Bank, Burlington Northern Railroad, Amtrak and Ceridian Corporation. The firm is featured in the book Class Action, the trial transcript based story behind the eleven year landmark sexual harassment class action which was the basis for the 2005 academy award nominated Warner Brothers movie North Country. More information is available on the firm website, www.sprengerlang.com.