NBC News, Comcast Hit With Age-Discrimination Lawsuit by Reporter

Investigative journalist and producer for KNBC says he was fired after repeatedly complaining about ageism

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NBC News, Comcast and NBCUniversal are being sued by a former investigative journalist who claims that he was the victim of age discrimination, and was fired after complaining repeatedly about ageism in his workplace, according to court papers obtained by TheWrap.

In the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, Frank V. Snepp says that he signed on with Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC-TV as a freelance investigative reporter and producer in 2005, joining on as a full employee the following year.

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During his time at KNBC, Snepp — currently 70 — claims that he won a Peabody award for a report on potentially disastrous environmental features in the Playa Vista development.

Snepp claims that he went on to participate in and/or spearhead “at least 200 other investigations.”

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However, Snepp’s lawsuit claims, he began to see a pattern of discrimination against older employees, leading to terminations or retirements, and at one point he was passed over for a promotion to investigative producer “and, instead, younger and less qualified individuals were hired and appointed to the position(s) of investigative producer.”

A spokeswoman for NBC News has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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“Despite his obvious qualifications and experience and expertise as an investigative reporter and producer, Plaintiff’s value to Defedant NBC News was considerably diminished because of his age,” the suit reads. “It is well-known in the television industry that Defendant NBC News has fostered a ‘youth movement’ in recent years.”

Snepp says he was fired in October 2012, at age 69, after repeatedly complaining about ageism at the station.

Those complaints, his suit reads, included “a 150-page summary complaint of his experiences at NBC News” and “a confrontation with station management about his self-performance evaluation (in which he had mentioned that he was the victim of age discrimination and ageism.)”

Alleging age discrimination and retaliation, Snepp is seeking unspecified compensatory, general and punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees and the costs of the suit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.