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EEOC Investigates Gender Discrimination in Hollywood

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Last fall, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began investigating why there were so few female film and TV directors. Yesterday, the ACLU announced that the scope of the EEOC's inquiry had widened to include Hollywood hiring practices overall.

Melissa Goodman, director of the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California, revealed the EEOC is "launching a wide-ranging and well-resourced investigation into the industry's hiring practices. We are encouraged by the scope of the government's process and are hopeful that the government will be moving to a more targeted phase." So what will they find?


It was the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Women's Rights Project that got the ball rolling last year when it asked the EEOC to look into "blatant and rampant discrimination against women directors in the film and television industries." And according to sources, that investigation has quietly been expanding to include interviews with studio executives, producers, agents, actors, and male directors.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the EEOC has already interviewed over 50 women directors, "asking how they were hired, who signed their paychecks and what roles agencies, managers and the Directors Guild of America played in their careers." A USC study found that only 1.9% of directors of the top-grossing 100 films of 2013 and 2014 were women, and not one of the 47 films announced by Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox through 2018 has a women director attached to the project.

Getting One More Take

In a normal EEOC investigation, the commission or parties involved could take legal action against an employer for gender discrimination, and that action could be settled in court, mediation, or some other negotiation. But this is not a normal EEOC investigation.

Normally there is one employer and a number of employees. But looking at hiring in Hollywood, the numbers are reversed: due to the process by which films are bought, sold, and greenlit for production, many people have a role in hiring decisions from producers and studio executives to managers and agents.

As the EEOC is discovering, tracking discrimination in Hollywood isn't as easy as just looking at who's signing the checks. And since the EEOC is declining to comment on the current investigation, it could be some time before we know the outcome.

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