The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
April 30, 2013: President Obama is asked a question by NBC April 30, 2013: President Obama is asked a question by NBC's White House Chief Correspondent Chuck Todd in the Brady Press briefing room at the White House. (REUTERS)  

Age discrimination suit rocks NBC

A former cameraman for Chuck Todd’s “Daily Rundown” show on MSNBC is suing NBC for age discrimination.

George Hyatt, who says he also worked with Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell, claims in a federal lawsuit that he was fired by an NBC News Washington bureau supervisor who told another employee he wanted to get “young blood in here.”

Hyatt, 60, told The Daily Caller that NBC News is “a sack full of lying weasels” but Todd himself was not complicit in his dismissal. Nevertheless, Hyatt said, Todd should “speak out” on his behalf.

While it is fighting Hyatt’s suit and other age discrimination claims, NBC has never been shy about charging other companies with bias against older workers. The “Today” show has done a tutorial for older workers who feel they have been victimized, and “Dateline NBC” has done a hidden camera investigation on companies it alleged turned down older applicants on the basis of their age. NBCNews.com recently gave prominent placement to a study claiming a third of older workers experience age discrimination.

Hyatt said he had worked with Todd since the goateed go-getter first joined NBC News.

In a brief conversation with The Daily Caller, Todd alternately expressed ignorance and incredulity about Hyatt’s claims.

Todd said he knew nothing about the lawsuit and Hyatt’s dismissal but is anyway not responsible for how NBC treats the men and women who put his show on the air. “Actually, I don’t supervise them,” Todd told TheDC.

NBC News claims Hyatt was fired solely for poor job performance.

NBC Universal, the parent company of MSNBC and NBC News, this June tried unsuccessfully to convince the judge handling the case that Hyatt’s union contract prohibited him from even filing a federal age discrimination lawsuit. The court rejected that claim.

On September 16, 2013, United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Robert Wilkins rejected NBC’s motion to dismiss the case or, alternatively, have it referred to binding arbitration.

Wilkins said the contract that NBC claimed precluded Hyatt from filing a federal lawsuit and instead required that discrimination claims be pursued exclusively through the union grievance process was not in effect at the time of his dismissal. NBC had argued that it applied retroactively.

At the time of his dismissal Hyatt was working without a union contract.  The previous collective agreement with the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communication Workers of America had allowed workers to file federal discrimination lawsuits based on age.  The contract ratified after his dismissal did not.

Wilkins also rejected NBC’s claims that Hyatt’s lawsuit should be thrown out of court because he had failed to file a complaint with his union about the dismissal. This is known legally as a failure to exhaust administrative remedies. But Wilkins said that regardless of whether a union complaint is filed the relevant contract “does not prohibit a covered employee from pursuing a judicial remedy.”