Fired Contestant Coordinator Alleges Age Discrimination

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A 66-year-old former employee on the “Jeopardy!'' show is suing the producers, alleging he was fired in August after more than three decades because of his age.

Glenn Kagan's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Quadra Productions Inc. In addition to age discrimination, he alleges failure to prevent discrimination, wrongful termination and failure to pay overtime.

Kagan seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed Wednesday. A Sony representative could not be immediately reached.

He worked for the companies and their predecessors from June 1986 until Aug. 21 of this year as a senior contestant coordinator on “Jeopardy,'' the suit states. On taping days, his duties included meeting contestants and escorting them to the green room, the suit states.

He also stood in for host Alex Trebek during rehearsal to see if contestants had any issues, including how to use the signaling buzzers, according to the complaint.

On non-taping days, Kagan booked contestants for upcoming shows and emailed them forms, the suit states. At various times, he conducted auditions for potential contestants, took notes on them and submitted the information to the proper people so they could make their selections, the suit states.

In July 2016, a young male in his 20s was promoted to contestant coordinator and over the next few years, some of Kagan's job duties were given to that employee, including stage work on tape days, the suit states. Kagan's supervisor told him the staff wanted the younger employee to appear in the camera shots with contestants between commercial breaks instead of him, according to the suit.

He had to miss a few days of work in January 2019 because of medical issues and his boss made repeated attempts to find out information about Kagan's medical condition and health, the suit states. In March 2020, the “Jeopardy!'' staff began working remotely from home due to the coronavirus, the suit states.

Four months later, employees were told that a “COVID captain'' would be hired to oversee all protocols regarding the disease, and that personal protective equipment would be given to all employees when they returned to work, according to the suit.

But when Kagan came back to work July 23, neither he nor the other employees were given masks or PPE, so he brought his own facial covering, the suit states. He was ordered to meet more than 20 contestants at the Sony lot to take them for coronavirus tests even though he was in his 60s and more vulnerable to the COVID-19 than younger workers, the suit states.

During the day, his mask slipped below his nose as he was talking to a contestant, but he quickly pulled it back up, the suit states. At another time that day, he was speaking to a security guard who was having trouble hearing him due to the noise in the parking structure, so he briefly lowered the mask to tell the guard something, then brought it back up, the suit states.

On July 24, he was asked to meet by videoconference with supervisors and a human resources representative, who accused him of failing to wear a mask, the suit states. Kagan raised his concerns about the lack of masks and PPE and the alleged failure to provide him with any protocols or instructions regarding use of PPE, the suit states.

He was subsequently put on suspension and the younger employee who had been getting his assignments took over all of his duties, according to the complaint.

Kagan was fired Aug. 21, after 34 years of employment and told it was because he failed to properly wear a mask, the suit states.

Photo: Getty Images

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