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Hollywood is a high pressure environment. Under the right circumstance, it’s able to offer money and fame. Under the wrong circumstances, it’s able to spit proud men and women back out. Kevin Brady, an ex-Story Department Director at Disney, was one of men recently spit out, but instead of going quietly, he’s decided to hire an attorney and get his lawsuit on for, of all things, age discrimination.
The 48-year-old worked for Disney for 26 years until last June when he was given the heave-ho. According to Deadline, he claims he was told his position was being eliminated because the Mouse House is making less movies, but he thinks those are lies and his bosses simply wanted to hire someone younger, in this case a woman in her late 20s or early 30s with "less experience", who used to work as an assistant to an executive.
Kevin Brady’s lawsuit further argues Disney allegedly has a history of preferring younger employees and systematically weeding out older people. As such, he would like personal compensation for all of the money he’s lost or will lose by not being an employee, as well as see Disney pay enough of a penalty that will stop them from ever discriminating against people again.
Obviously, none of us are on the ground and privy to exactly what happened between Kevin Brady and his bosses, but there are a few pretty serious problems with these claims that Disney will likely exploit in court. First of all, 48-years-old is not very old at all. Almost every single one of Disney’s key executives are older than that. CEO Bob Iger is 63. Animation President Edwin Catmull is 69. Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter is 57. Chairman Thomas O Staggs is 54. Studio President Alan Horn is 71. Every single one of these people is older than Brady, and none of them have been forced out of their jobs.
Beyond that, Brady’s position is one that involves creativity, leadership and vision. He’s not a file clerk where the only important question is whether or not he can keep up with everyone else. His performance reviews might have been good, but that doesn’t mean the Story Department might not benefit from someone with new ideas. Besides, I’m not sure, in the history of the United States, there has ever been a well-liked person who was great at their job who was fired simply for being old. I think there are a lot of good candidates who don’t get jobs because they’re old or miss out on promotions because they’re old, but if someone is well liked and great at their job, they don’t get fired, unless their boss is some mad tyrant who doesn’t listen to reason or common sense.
I don’t know what happened here, but if I had to place my marbles on the table and guess, I would say Brady was probably competent enough at his job, but his bosses ultimately decided this former assistant deserved a higher level position and he seemed replaceable. Dick move? Probably. Worth suing over? Probably not.