Pink slipped from his producing job at KNBC about two years ago after almost a decade at the station, Frank Snepp has decided to double up on his battle against his former employer. The 71-year-old Emmy and Peabody winner today filed a wrongful-termination complaint against NBCUniversal and the local LA affiliate seeking a jury trial and “compensatory, general, and punitive damages.” Proving that timing really is everything, the 9-page filing in LA Superior Court (read it here) comes just one day before a potentially vital hearing on a similar age-discrimination suit Snepp filed in October against Comcast, NBC4 (aka KNBC) and NBC News (read that suit here). That motion for summary judgment hearing could see Snepp’s previous case come to an end just as this one is beginning.
While the previous suit was for age discrimination, this one is going more for the corporate jugular in pinpointing exactly how Snepp says Comcast started trying to get rid of older employees after taking over NBCUniversal in late 2009. “The company's strategy for eliminating older employers followed consistent patterns. Existing ‘producer’ positions and titles were eliminated or changed, all producers, editors, cameramen and news writers were required to apply for new jobs with new titles and vague qualifications and job descriptions,” says the complaint from the veteran journalist and author who worked for KNBC from May 2005 to October 1, 2012.
“Those targeted for elimination, invariably older employees, soon found themselves ‘marginalized,’ cut off from the station's mainstream work or inhibited or harassed in doing it, then criticized in employee evaluations for allegedly not doing it, then finally terminated on some vague, trumped-up performance-related complaint,” the filing adds. To the Plaintiff and many of his colleagues at KNBC-TV the message was clear: Age was not welcome at the new NBC4.”
The consequence of that message, according to Snepp’s lawyers Joel Baruch and Corey Hall of the former’s Irvine law offices, is exactly what happened to the very well credentialed producer – with a bitter twist. “After Snepp was terminated, KNBC recruited and promoted younger reporters to perform investigative producing jobs at the station,” they assert. This came after Snepp says he submitted two complaints to upper management at the station over the discrimination against older employees and the “hostile environment” it created. Complaints that he claims were not properly investigated. In fact, one of Snepp's reports on age discrimination at the NBC affiliate seemed to disappear in the discovery process of his previous lawsuit - as if it never was submitted.
In today’s filing, Snepp is also seeking cost and the usual “such and further relief as this court deems proper and just.” Doubt NBCU will agree with any of that.