Judge Dismisses Age Discrimination Suit Filed Against KPIX by Two Former Reporters

By Andrew Gauthier 

A federal judge has dismissed an age discrimination suit brought against San Francisco’s KPIX by two former employees.

Reporters Bill Schechner and John Lobertini filed a lawsuit against the CBS O&O after they were laid off, alleging that station management used a round of belt-tightening to dismiss older employees.

Schechner (left) was 66 and Lobertini (far left) was 47 when the station sent them walking in 2008.  They were two of five employees laid off at the time and they used the fact that all five were over 47 as the foundation of their lawsuit.

In July, Schechner and Lobertini’s suit was struck a major blow when U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that their claims did not prove that they were individually targeted because of their age.

In her July ruling, Patel ripped into Schechner’s claim that he had earlier been replaced as a weekend anchor because he was old.  KPIX management testified that Schechner was replaced because his work had been “lackluster” and, in her ruling, Patel wrote: “Despite plaintiffs’ protestations to the contrary, the word ‘lackluster’ is not generally used as a synonym for ‘old.'” She went on to offer the dictionary definition of “lackluster.”

Patel dismissed the remaining part of the lawsuit on Thursday, ruling that the round of layoffs did not disproportionately affect employees over 40.

The station has contended that employees were chosen for the layoffs because their contracts were set to expire.  KPIX paid the employees through the end of their contracts.