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SAG-AFTRA Steps Into IMDb’s Lawsuit Over Actor Age Listings

Union makes bid to defend the legislation it supported

SAG-AFTRA has stepped into the ring in the ongoing legal battle over the right — or lack thereof — to publicly reveal actors’ ages.

In legal papers filed Monday, the union asked to join the lawsuit filed by IMDb.com against former California attorney general Kamala Harris as a defendant, saying that the union “is in a unique position to defend the constitutionality of this law, because of its expertise concerning the phenomenon of rampant age discrimination in the entertainment industry that gave rise to its involvement as the sponsor of AB 1687 and to the passage of this legislation.”

The union added that it “is entitled to intervene and, in the alternative, should be permitted to intervene in this litigation.”

“SAG-AFTRA is in a unique position to defend the constitutionality of AB 1687,” the filing continues. “SAG-AFTRA receives discrimination complaints and grievances from its members and gathers information on age discrimination in the entertainment industry. SAG-AFTRA’s sponsorship of AB 1687 arose from this institutional knowledge of common entertainment industry practices.”

The law, which was signed into law by California governor Jerry Brown in September,  requires entertainment database sites such as IMDb to remove an actor’s age if asked by the actor to do so. In November, IMDb filed suit, contending that the law “sets a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent for other general purpose websites and news sources, and should be deeply troubling to all who care about free speech.”

The suit continues, “IMDb shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination … But [the law] is an unconstitutional law that does not advance, much less achieve, that goal. To the contrary, rather than passing laws designed to address the root problem of age discrimination, the State of California has chosen to chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.