After working at NBCUniversal for a decade, 59-year-old tv govt Mark “Scott” Vila has gone public with an age discrimination grievance in opposition to the leisure behemoth, detailing his claims completely to The Every day Beast.
Vila, who oversaw programming growth for NBCUniversal properties together with Syfy, USA Community, and streaming service Peacock, was amongst practically a dozen staff laid off this February. The cuts had been “not performance-related,” he recalled being informed, however had been alleged cost-cutting measures. Nonetheless, in response to Vila, upon reviewing who received the ax and who didn’t, the layoffs might have been discriminatory.
“I believed this was only a horrible factor that occurred to me after which I began to take a look at who they laid off and who they saved, and it was actually clear that it was ageist and… it was clear the design was to put off older individuals and make the group youthful,” he informed The Every day Beast, citing how staffers over 50 comprised simply 6 p.c of scripted leisure content material staffers however practically one-third of the workers let go by NBCUniversal.
Nobody over 50 stays among the many staff in his division, he stated. At first he thought it was a coincidence: Older staffers might have increased salaries, he rationalized. Nonetheless, Vila stated, “you’ll be able to’t lay off the entire protected group on the similar time, which is what they did.” He added: “I went from unhappy to extra like that’s actually not truthful, that is discriminatory.”
NBCUniversal didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Additional bolstering Vila’s perception that the layoffs had been ageist is the truth that he was elevated by the corporate months earlier than receiving his pink slip. “I used to be promoted final 12 months in the midst of my contract, which just about by no means occurs,” he stated, “and as a part of that negotiation they made the selection to increase my contract one other extra 12 months. I had launched Resident Alien per week earlier than, which was the highest-rated present on the Syfy community in half a decade. After which I used to be laid off.”
Two weeks after being knowledgeable of his termination, Vila despatched an e-mail to NBCUniversal’s human-resources division. The letter, which was obtained and reviewed by The Every day Beast, detailed his ageism issues and invoked the corporate’s personal code of conduct allegedly imploring staff to “do the best factor.” An HR official responded the following day stating they’d look into his issues and report again.
“The letter did no good,” he stated. And so Vila employed high-profile lawyer Lisa Bloom to gear up for a authorized battle in opposition to the mass-media conglomerate. As a result of a non-disclosure settlement Vila signed initially of his employment, he’s unable to file a public lawsuit and can as an alternative must privately arbitrate his grievance. The previous govt seeks undisclosed quantities of compensatory and punitive damages in addition to attorneys charges.
“I’m proud to characterize Scott Vila as he stands up in opposition to age discrimination at NBC/Comcast. Older employees deliver expertise, ability, and intelligence to their work and must be judged on their deserves,” Bloom informed The Every day Beast. “For too lengthy the TV trade has prized youth over expertise. It’s not solely fallacious, it’s unlawful, and we are going to combat till we get justice for Scott.”
Lately, NBCUniversal has confronted several age discrimination lawsuits, together with a high-profile case through which veteran reporter (and CIA whistleblower) Frank Snepp, then 69 years previous, claimed NBC’s LA affiliate KNBC-TV fired him because of his age. The lawsuit was settled on undisclosed phrases.
In the end, Vila lamented, age discrimination could also be a daily function of the leisure enterprise. “I feel in Hollywood it’s a type of issues the place it’s simply sort of accepted that this occurs and there may be ageism,” he stated. “It’s a little bit of an accepted observe as a result of I feel individuals really feel like there’s nothing they will do something about. Most of the individuals in my similar form of state of affairs are much more petrified of not getting a job than I’m, so that they’re afraid to come back ahead.”
The veteran TV govt admitted he, too, fears he could also be blacklisted from working within the trade after going public along with his allegations.
“Talking out is a danger. In truth, it was a very robust alternative and this entire course of is method outdoors of my consolation zone. I’d actually moderately be spending time with my son and I’m involved concerning the retaliation and by no means working in leisure once more as a result of it’s so well-known that they don’t actually rent individuals of a sure age,” he stated. “However I felt on this case the fallacious was so clear, there was no ambiguity about it and the injury was very private to me as a result of I actually cherished my job. I felt like I needed to do one thing.”
He continued of his time at NBCUniversal: “It was an important place to work. We had a very tight crew of individuals. It was like a household. I cherished the individuals. I cherished my bosses. That’s a part of why we’re bringing this case as a result of we need to be sure that what occurred to me doesn’t occur to them.”