American weatherman in legal battle over 'auto-cuties'

Friday 30th Mar 2012 by theWeather Club

We've heard of the saying 'age before beauty' well if one angry meteorologist gets his way, "auto-cutie" weathergirls may become a thing of the past. American weatherman, Kyle Hunter, is suing CBS and Los Angeles affiliates KCAL and KCBS for age and gender discrimination, claiming that stations are rejecting wisdom and experience in favour of pretty faces.

Mr Hunter, a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and an award-winning meteorologist with over 20 years of experience, says that his repeated attempts to apply for two weather broadcaster positions were ignored or rebuffed because he was not a good-looking, 20-something female.

His lawyer, Gloria Allred, said it was one of the first times a man had tried to claim unfair discrimination, under Californian employment law, on the grounds of his gender. Ms Allred's involvement in the case is likely to divide opinion. A high-profile Hollywood lawyer, who achieved fame representing the family of Nicole Brown Simpson, the murdered wife of OJ, she has represented a string of high-profile clients, including, in the past couple of years, the mistresses of everyone from Tiger Woods to Hermann Cain.

Mr Hunter, who describes himself in legal papers as "over the age of 40 years", alleges that his treatment by the CBS channel amounted to age discrimination. He is duly seeking "unspecified" damages. The document goes on to state "It appears that the defendants do not want knowledgeable weather professionals as their prime-time weather broadcasters. It appears instead that they want attractive young women, and only attractive young women, broadcasting the weather."

A court will now have to decide whether a company's right to freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the US Constitution, is greater than its obligations under employment law. CBS has made clear that it intends to contest the claim vigorously. A statement said: "The complaint is frivolous and based on gross mis-statements of fact. There was no need for the stations to interview someone we were already well aware of. The forecast calls for a vigorous defence by CBS and an early dismissal of the complaint."