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Photographer Settles Race, Age Discrimination Suit Against Visual Media Firm
By City News Service
Published October 6, 2021

A 73-year-old Black photographer settled his lawsuit against Getty Images U.S. Inc. in which he alleged he was subjected to racial and/or age discrimination because he was denied a fulltime position despite 26 years of competent freelance work.

Attorneys for Frederick Brown and the British-American visual media company announced the resolution on Thursday as jury selection was ongoing in the trial of the case in Los Angeles Superior Court. No terms were divulged and Judge Maurice A. Leiter dismissed the prospective jurors.

Brown was one of the first photographers hired at Getty Images US when the company opened for business in 1995, when he was retained as a stringer, the suit states.

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“There is a class system at Getty,” the suit stated. “The staff positions have been reserved for white men and women, whereas the Black photographers are relegated to the low-paying stringer/contributor roles.”

Throughout his more than two-decade career with Getty, Brown told hiring managers, assignment editors and others that he wanted to be a staff photographer, in part because of job security and the major pay difference, the suit states.

“However, despite his decades of service and approximately 250,000 images taken by Mr. Brown and available for licensing on the Getty website, he has been passed over and over and again and again for employment as a staff photographer for Getty,” the suit alleged.

A staff position pays $150,000 annually, plus benefits, but Brown’s income as a stringer/contributor in the last several years has ranged in the high $30,000s, the suit stated. In their court papers, Getty’s attorneys denied any discrimination on the part of the company.

“In his freelance work for (Getty), plaintiff was a competent but not exceptional photographer, who made little effort as an applicant to show that he could do the kind of versatile, innovative work required of a staff photographer,” the Getty lawyers stated in their court papers. “Photography is a competitive profession where artistic eye and vision mean everything. (Getty) selected the best candidate, irrespective of race or age — and that best candidate was not (Brown).”

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