Ageism alive and well in Tinseltown

The decision by television producers Warner Brothers to drop 41-year-old
actress Alex Kingston from drama series ER because she is "too old",
reflects the continuing view of many organisations that ageism is acceptable,
according to experts.

Last week, the British actress, who has played Dr Elizabeth Corday for seven
years, claimed that her £2.3m a year contract on ER was not being renewed
because executives want to concentrate on younger cast members.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Kingston said: "I suddenly felt
very old, surrounded by these young 20-somethings.

"Does that mean I’m the geriatric that’s being pushed out because she’s
too old? [The show] definitely seems to be taking a different tone," she

Although organisations are getting better at stamping out ageism,
stereotypes about people of different ages still abound, said Sam Mercer,
director of The Employers Forum on Age.

"Age discrimination is still the poor relation to the other types of
legislation," she said. "Things like appointing staff because they
‘fit in’ can have an adverse effect on older people."

In December 2006, the European Union employment directive Article 13 will
become law, making age discrimination at work illegal.

Awareness about the forthcoming legislation is "shockingly poor",
Mercer said.

"There is lots of work to do with this agenda but lots of companies are
blissfully ignorant," she said. "The difficulty that employers are
going to face is that they are still fighting the view that ageism is

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