The producers of “Jeopardy!” were recently named in a lawsuit accusing them of committing age discrimination. Glenn Kagan, a 66-year-old former-employee on the show, claims he was fired in August because of his age.
Both federal and state laws protect the rights of workers who are over age 40. Some examples of illegal age discrimination include failing to hire or promote someone because of his or her age, discharging someone because of age, or offering unfair terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of someone’s age.
Multiple violations may have occurred
In the lawsuit, Kagan also reportedly accuses the producers, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Quadra Productions Inc., of failure to prevent discrimination, wrongful termination and failure to pay overtime.
According to media reports, Kagan had worked on the show for 34 years before his dismissal. During that time, his duties included meeting with contestants, escorting contestants to the green room, standing in for the host during rehearsal, booking contestants, conducting auditions, taking and submitting notes on auditioning contestants, and other related tasks.
In 2016, some of Kagan’s duties reportedly began to be given to another employee who was in his 20s. Kagan’s stage duties were some of the tasks that were given to the younger employee. Kagan’s supervisor reportedly told him it was because staff wanted the younger employee to appear on screen instead of him.
Fair consequences or flimsy excuses?
According to media reports, when Kagan was fired in August 2020, he was told it was because he failed to wear his mask properly. This came after nearly a month of suspension, which he was also told was caused because he failed to properly wear a mask.
Kagan reportedly claims the company did not supply masks or instructions regarding personal protective equipment related to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he claims that despite this, he wore his own face covering while at work with the exception of two brief instances.
One incident allegedly involved his mask unintentionally slipping below his nose. The other allegedly involved Kagan pulling down his mask so a security guard could hear him in a noisy parking structure. Kagan reportedly replaced his mask immediately following each instance.
Three signs of age discrimination
The Los Angeles Superior Court will need to decide if Kagan experienced age discrimination or not. However, age discrimination, in general, may be more common than many people realize.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), there are several signs that could indicate someone is experiencing age discrimination. Some of the most common signs may include:
- Less favorable opportunities: If you notice that the older workers in your company are regularly getting passed over for opportunities in favor of younger workers, it could be a sign that age discrimination is taking place. These opportunities could include trainings, promotions, desirable projects and others.
- Out with the old, in with the new: If your company lays off or eliminates the jobs of older workers, it could be a sign of age discrimination, especially if younger workers are hired to replace them or to perform the same duties with a different title.
- Creative excuses: If an older employee is unexpectedly demoted or fired and the reason for this action doesn’t add up, it could mean that age discrimination is taking place. Sometimes, companies will claim their actions were caused by poor performance, even when the data shows that the employee was performing as well as or better than younger employees who did not receive the same negative treatment from the company.
Although employers are prohibited from committing age discrimination, some still do. Employees who have had their rights violated because of their age may benefit from exploring their options. It may be possible for them to hold their employer accountable.