A man has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against a Houston television station, claiming his employment was terminated because of his age.
Charles Hobson, of Harris County, Texas, worked for KRIV from 1990 to 2011 as a live truck operator, staff photographer and editor. He claims that KRIV and co-defendants Fox Television Stations, Inc., Fox Entertainment Group and News Corp. fired him because of his age. The lawsuit alleges that Fox had been engaged in layoffs that disproportionately affected older employees of the station. According to the complaint, employees of the station that were hired before 2004 are participants in pension and benefit plans that are more extensive than those offered to newer employees.
Hobson claims in the lawsuit that in 2009, he began receiving vague, negative comments about his work performance. According to Hobson, in the 19 years previous, there had been no negative comments about his work performance. The lawsuit claims that the station’s news director added negative remarks to the 2009 performance evaluation written by his immediate supervisor, and that his 2010 evaluation was simply written by the news director and given to his immediate supervisor to present to Hobson, again with negative comments.
The lawsuit claims that the station’s news director made comments to Hobson that he “could have been better” or “could have done something different,” and other vague remarks. Hobson also claims he was disciplined for broadcast mistakes that occurred due to inclement weather and computer malfunctions.
According to the complaint, there are approximately 18 employees of the station who have similar job titles to Hobson’s, and Hobson was the oldest or one of the two oldest. The lawsuit claims that younger employees performed similarly to Hobson but did not receive the same negative remarks. According to the complaint, Hobson’s employment was terminated in January of 2011 and a younger employee was hired as his replacement.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, claims that the defendants violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The ADEA protects workers over age 40 from age-based discrimination. The plaintiff is also suing under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Hobson previously filed a charge of age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Civil Rights Division of the Texas Workforce Commission, which are procedural steps before litigation.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damages for loss of past and future wages, as well as emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life.