A 34-year employee of the popular game show “Jeopardy!” is suing the show’s producers after being fired in August.
Glenn Kagan, 66, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and Quadra Productions Inc. claiming age discrimination.
Company said the plaintiff violated COVID protocols
“Jeopardy!” staffers began working remotely in March of this year due to coronavirus restrictions. In July, producers told employees they would receive personal protective equipment (PPE) when they returned to work.
However, the lawsuit says neither Kagan nor any other workers received PPE or masks, so he brought his own facial covering. Soon after, producers ordered him to take 20 contestants for COVID testing, even though he was one of the most vulnerable employees due to his age.
During this assignment, he says his mask slipped beneath his nose when he was talking to a contestant. In another instance shortly after, he briefly pulled down his mask because a security guard had trouble understanding him.
The next day, supervisors suspended him during a videoconference saying he had failed to comply with COVID protocols. Kagan raised concerns about the lack of PPE and masks and said employees had not been provided with any protocols or instructions.
The lawsuit says he was fired on Aug. 21 after more than three decades on the job after producers told him he had failed to wear a mask properly.
His job duties shifted to a younger employee
During his 34 years on the job, Kagan had stood in for Alex Trebek during rehearsals to help if contestants had any issues, such as using the hand buzzers. He also booked contestants for future shows and emailed forms to them. At times, he conducted auditions for potential contestants.
That changed in 2016 when producers promoted a man in his 20s to the contestant coordinator position. Afterward, more of Kagan’s responsibilities were passed along to the younger worker, including duties on taping days.
The lawsuit says Kagan’s supervisor told him that the staff wanted the younger man to appear in camera shots with contestants during commercial breaks instead of him. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for discrimination, wrongful termination and unpaid overtime.