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Former KNBC reporter Frank Snepp heads to trial in age discrimination lawsuit

Former KNBC-TV reporter Frank Snepp appears in an undated handout photo. (Photo: The Desk/Supplied)
Former KNBC-TV reporter Frank Snepp appears in an undated handout photo. (Photo: The Desk/Supplied)

A former KNBC-TV (Channel 4) investigative reporter heads to court on Monday to start the trial phase of his age discrimination lawsuit against his former employer.

Frank Snepp, 72, was hired by KNBC after a decades-long career in journalism following his stint as a CIA analyst during the Vietnam War in the 1970s. His last hire was at the NBC-owned station in Los Angeles where from 2005 to 2012 he served as the channel’s investigative producer and reporter until his position was eliminated three years ago.

Snepp alleges his dismissal was because of his age, noting some staffers had made comments about his age during his time there and that KNBC continued to produce investigative news pieces with a young reporters and producers after his departure. KNBC contends his firing was because of poor performance — just weeks before his dismissal, the channel settled a defamation lawsuit with the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) over a news piece filed by Snepp on alleged safety issues at the Staples Center, a sports complex owned by AEG.

Earlier this year, KNBC attempted to get Snepp’s lawsuit dismissed, asserting the ex-employee had not proven that he had been replaced by younger staff members. But a judge ruled against KNBC, saying Snepp had raised a “triable issue” by presenting evidence that showed news staff had made remarks about his age during his time with the station.

The court hoped both sides would reach some kind of an agreement at a mandatory settlement conference. But neither party could reach an agreement, meaning the case will head to trial on Monday.

KNBC is owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast Corporation. A spokesperson for the station did not return an after-hours request for comment on Sunday.

A spokesperson for Snepp said he was unavailable for comment.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).