Is ABC Committing Sexual Discrimination With All Female ‘View'?

July 27th, 2007 11:03 AM

Yale law professor Ian Ayres raised a very interesting question Tuesday: Is ABC possibly committing sexual discrimination by only hiring women as hosts on the daily coffee klatch "The View?"

Great question, wouldn't you agree?

In an article posted at Balkanization blog (h/t Ann Althouse via Glenn Reynolds), Ayres began his analysis of this issue by first looking at the recent announcement that comedian Drew Carey would be the new host of the "The Price is Right."

His concern was raised when former "Price" host Bob Barker said the following last month:

Now, whether they want a lady host, I don't know. I've never heard that discussed. As far as I know, they've only auditioned men.

Ayres noted (emphasis added throughout):

The possibility that the producers of the show don't "want a lady host" is the possibility of a Title VII violation. Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in employment unless the employer can establish what's called a BFOQ or "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification." The EEOC Guidelines do allow intentional sex discrimination in hiring an actor or actress where the sex-specific roles are necessary for the "purpose of authenticity or genuineness," see 29 C.F.R. § 1604.2(a)(2). But there is no way that the producers could establish that sex was a BFOQ for being host of "The Price is Right."

Fascinating. So, how might this relate to "The View?"

The same conclusion probably holds true for hosting "The View." The thought that only women could host a talk show would be difficult to square with existing case law. Probably a dozen different hosts have been employed by The View. They have all been female. There is little doubt that the producers of that show discriminate on the basis of sex in hiring.

Seems to be the case. Althouse commented (emphasis added):

The idea of lawsuits over such things seems ridiculous. But exactly why is it ridiculous?

Personally, I feel insulted by what the networks put on TV during the day. The whole line-up makes the statement: This is what we think women are. Or: This is what we think nonworking women are. Not that I wish I could sue. I'm just offended.

Reynolds saw it differently: "Bring on the lawsuits."

I comically agree.

*****Update: Matt Sheffield points out that NBC had an all-male talk show in 2001 called "The Other Half." It didn't last very long.