Miriam O’Reilly Wins Age Discrimination Suit Against the BBC

by Melissa Silverstein on January 12, 2011

in Ageism

Miriam O’Reilly was a presenter on Countryfile on the BBC in 2009 when she was replaced.  She claimed she was replaced because of her gender and her age.  She was 51.  She refused to settle and went to court and yesterday was vindicated.  The count of gender discrimination was dismissed.

Here’s what O’Reilly said:

It wasn’t about the money. I just wanted my career back…I took this action because I wanted to work for the BBC. I’m really impressed that they have apologised. However, we have a long way to go with ageism in visual media – not just the BBC, the whole industry.

Here’s what her lawyer Camilla Parker said:

This has huge implications for all broadcasters not just the BBC. The lesson is that presenters should be selected for their ability not their age…Women and men on screen should not be hired or fired on the basis of their age.

Age discrimination is a huge issue for women especially in the news business.

Miriam O’Reilly: I was right to stand up to BBC (Guardian)
Miriam O’Reilly case: winners and losers (The Guardian)

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Harris, NYTimes bestselling author January 12, 2011 at 4:28 PM

“Women and men on screen should not be hired or fired on the basis of their age.”
Or their looks. Why is just about every female anchor or news personality (especially on cable) young (or a plastic surgery victim) and blonde and lip glossed? Who hires them and who dictates their hair and makeup? Or do they just represent the (wet) dreams of the suits in the executive suites?
Thank the goddess for Candy Crowley!
And congratulations to Miriam O’Reilly!

SNA January 12, 2011 at 9:48 PM

If you can do the job you should be allowed to, whatever your age, but the worry is that if someone can’t do the job and gets sacked, they’ll say it’s because of their age.

soirore January 13, 2011 at 7:42 AM

I’m really pleased about this but it’s annoying that the gender element was dismissed. As John Craven is still on Countryfile (I believe) it shows that it’s older women who are discriminated against rather than older men.

But it’s a start.

Free movies December 9, 2011 at 6:37 AM

BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob has apologised to Miriam O’Reilly after the former Countryfile

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