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William Morris Endeavor accused of age discrimination

By | Published on Tuesday 17 June 2014


Talent and booking agency William Morris Endeavor has been accused of age discrimination by a former employee in the US, who says that he was routinely mocked for being a relatively junior member of staff in his 40s, and that his age prevented him from being offered a place on this firm’s agent trainee programme.

Sean Bryan says he joined the William Morris Agency in 2008, but that problems began when the company merged with Endeavor a year later, alleging that it was clear that management from the Endeavor side of the company did not approve of older employees working in junior roles.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bryan alleges that his superiors routinely joked about his age, saying things like “Who’s the old guy at the desk?”, “What’s up, Old Timer”, “Haven’t you been here for 100 years?” and, “You are going to have a hard time here because of your age and hair colour”.

The company’s HR boss is also accused of telling Bryan – who worked on the TV side of the agency – that he didn’t “fit the Endeavor model”. This all led, Bryan claims, to him being overlooked for agent trainee roles, despite him receiving favourable performance reviews.

But legal reps for WME strongly deny the allegations, calling Bryan’s case “utterly meritless” and predicting an easy win for the agency should it get to court. Attorney Mark Baute told the Reporter: “Mr Bryan had a chronic tardiness and absenteeism problem, which was well documented, and he was not discriminated against in any way, shape or form. Any further comment would unduly dignify a frivolous lawsuit that should never have been filed”.

Whatever the merits of the case, should it get to court Bryan is likely to dish the dirt on the climate within WME immediately post the William Morris/Endeavor merger, many having noted at the time on how much the corporate cultures of the two talent firms differed.