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Former Jeopardy Employee Sues Sony for Age Discrimination (1)

Oct. 8, 2020, 11:44 PMUpdated: Oct. 9, 2020, 12:18 AM

Glenn Kagan, longtime coordinator on the television game show Jeopardy!, says he was discriminated against based on his age and ultimately fired from the show on the pretense of Covid-19 safety procedures, while being replaced by a much younger employee.

Kagan spent more than 30 years conducting auditions and booking contestants for the show among other tasks, according to his complaint, which names Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., and Quadra Productions, Inc. as defendants and was filed in superior court in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

His duties were slowly taken away from him beginning in 2016 when a younger employee in his 20s was hired, he alleges. The younger employee allegedly took Kagan’s place at the contestant table on stage and appeared in his stead in camera shots with contestants between commercial breaks.

Kagan says he missed several days of work in 2019 for medical issues, and Rocky Schmidt, the show’s supervising producer made repeated attempts to find out information about Kagan’s health over the following months.

When the Jeopardy team returned to the office in July 2020 after several months of remote work due to Covid-19, employees weren’t provided with masks or other personal protective equipment, or given any policies or protocols regarding safety, the complaint alleges.

Kagan, at 66 years old, says he was at high risk of contracting Covid-19, and therefore wore a mask he had brought for his own protection, but was still required to interact with contestants. The complaint says his mask once inadvertently slipped down below his nose and he pulled it back up, and that he once removed it to say something to a security guard who was having trouble hearing.

Kagan was put on suspension, and ultimately fired after being accused of failing to wear a mask, he says.

The complaint also alleges Kagan wasn’t paid overtime premiums for excess hours that he worked, and that Sony intentionally failed to provide him accurate itemized wage statements.

Causes of Action: Age discrimination; wrongful termination; failure to pay overtime; failure to provide compliant wage statements; unfair business practices.

Relief: General and special damages; statutory penalties; premium pay; punitive damages; restitution of unpaid overtime; interest; costs; attorneys’ fees.

Response: Sony declined to comment.

Attorneys: Appell Shapiro LLP and The Equal Rights Law Group represent Kagan.

The case is Kagan v. Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 20STOV33553, 10/7/20.

(Updates story to indicate Sony declined to comment.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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