Being a TV writer in California can certainly present many interesting and rewarding opportunities. However, diverse writers working in the television industry may not have such a positive attitude about this profession, according to the results of a report prepared by a group of working TV writers and a therapist. The report found that more than 60 percent of writers who are women, non-binary, LGBTQ, people of color or individuals with disabilities experienced discrimination, bias and/or harassment.
According to the report, this type of workplace discrimination also involved push-back when pitching diverse storylines or non-stereotypically diverse characters. Most than half of the writers questioned also reported instances of having story ideas rejected only to have those same ideas accepted later when pitched by a non-diverse writer. The report further contends that many diverse writers are hired because they allow employers to “check the box” for diversity hiring. Yet such writers aren’t given sufficient opportunities for advancement.
Most of the writers questioned were members of the Writers Guild of America. The majority of them also fell somewhere between staff writer and executive story editor levels. More than 40 percent said they got either their first or second job as diversity hires. Also, 15 percent reported taking a demotion to get their jobs. As for who’s likely to be most resistant to more inclusive content, top answers were showrunners, the network and the general writers’ room.
The role of an attorney familiar with employee rights in such cases is to focus on individual instances of workplace discrimination, bias or harassment. This process may involve interviews with co-workers or a review of complaints made by other employees experiencing similar issues. Appropriate legal solutions might include compensation for earnings lost or reasonable demands for changes with workplace practices.