CBS Affiliate Found in Violation of Age Discrimination Protections

Based on our own personal experiences at the firm, it seems employees have some misconceptions about age discrimination, and I can see why. It’s easy to assume that a person in their 40s – likely at the prime of their career – would not fall victim to age discrimination. However, in industries that skew younger (like tech, for instance) it happens more often than we might think.

If have been experiencing issues at work, such as age discrimination, wrongful suspension, or wrongful termination, contact us for a free consultation with our legal team.

Less than a year ago we published an article about how the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers over 40; this month, the Dallas Morning News reported about a veteran traffic reporter who was passed over for a full-time job in favor of a younger, less experienced applicant. Here are the details, and what we can learn from this verdict. (Full disclosure: Jackson Spencer Law was not involved in this lawsuit.)

The ‘Ideal Candidate’

Tammy Dombeck, 47, began working with a local CBS affiliate in Feb. 2013 as a freelance traffic reporter after covering that same beat for the NBC affiliate for 12 years. In Oct. 2014, a full-time traffic position opened up at the CBS station, and Dombeck applied for the job. According to the job description, the “ideal candidate” has at least five years of “professional broadcasting experience” with “strong knowledge of local traffic in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

Clearly, Dombeck fit the bill. However, the position ultimately went to a 24-year-old who had never been to Dallas – after CBS had offered and been turned down by a 27-year-old who, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “could not identify any major road or highway.”

In 2017, the EEOC filed the lawsuit against CBS Stations Group of Texas, which includes the CBS affiliate where Dombeck worked, under the ADEA.

Following litigation where the defense cited negative viewer feedback regarding Dombeck, the judge ruled in her favor and awarded $215,000; additionally, the defendants will have to provide training on the anti-discrimination law, publish a notice of employee rights, and provide status reports to the EEOC.

Take Action Against Age Discrimination

Good work speaks for itself. Dombeck’s experience in the field proves that she was the most qualified among the three candidates, and as a result, the CBS affiliate violated the ADEA by hiring a 24-year-old who did not fit the job description. By filing a complaint with the EEOC, Dombeck took a stand for her rights and used her voice to draw attention to a complex issue that is often misunderstood.

Jackson Spencer Can Help

To learn more about workplace discrimination, check out our blog. If you’re facing discrimination in the workplace due to your age or any other protected category, contact our experienced employment attorneys today. We’ll tackle your case with honest advice and aggressive representation to protect your rights as an employee.