EEOC: Major Studios Failed To Hire Female Directors; Lawsuit Looms

EXCLUSIVE: The EEOC is in settlement talks with the major studios to resolve charges that they systemically discriminated against female directors. “Every one of the major studios has received a charge contending that they failed to hire women directors,” a knowledgeable source told Deadline.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began investigating allegations of Hollywood’s discriminatory hiring practices against female directors in October 2015, but the investigation is over and has moved into the settlement phase. “The EEOC is attempting to resolve the charges but, if unable to, may file a lawsuit,” the source said.

The EEOC doesn’t comment on its investigations, and charges only are made public when it files a lawsuit, which the EEOC says is “typically a last resort.”

On its website, the EEOC states: “If a violation is found, we will attempt to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If we cannot reach a settlement, your case will be referred to our legal staff – or the Department of Justice in certain cases – who will decide whether or not the agency should file a lawsuit.”

As we reported Monday, the Directors Guild tried to get the studios to embrace a program similar to the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which was meant to encourage teams to consider candidates of color for top coaching positions.

During the DGA’s contract negotiations in December, the guild pressed the producers to adopt a similar rule that would have required producers to interview female and minority candidates as part of the hiring process for directing jobs. The companies, however, declined to discuss the proposal “for legal reasons.” Deadline has now confirmed that the “legal reasons” involved their settlement talks with the EEOC.