A sports commentator who was fired for using racist language in January has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer ESPN. The case stemmed from alleged racist remarks made during the Australian Open match between US tennis star Venus Williams and Stephanie Voegele.
In a comment about Williams’ playing style, the plaintiff uttered the word ‘gorilla’ which created a stir in social media for being racist. The network then asked the plaintiff to read a prepared apology the next day but the plaintiff insisted that he used the word ‘guerilla’ and not ‘gorilla’ during the controversial broadcast. ESPN fired the plaintiff and said that the terminated sportscaster should have been more careful with his words.
The plaintiff’s lawyer said that the sportscaster was terminated due to mounting social media pressure as numerous users on Twitter referred to his behavior as bullying and racism.
The plaintiff maintains that his unlawful termination not only led to the loss of a job but has also caused employers to avoid him. He is, therefore, asking for compensation and damages to cover the serious financial and emotional injury brought about by the alleged unlawful termination.
California is an ‘at-will’ employment state. As a rule, employees in California are presumed to be hired ‘at will’ and may be dismissed from their employment for any reason except for illegal grounds. To defeat an at-will employment presumption, the employee must be able to present evidence of a contrary agreement with the employer and that his termination violated applicable provisions of the employment agreement.
Even with an ‘at will’ employment, an employer may still not terminate the employment of an employee on illegal grounds such as:
If you were fired under questionable circumstances, it’s best to consult an experienced wrongful termination lawyer who can assess your situation and determine whether your termination was legal or not. If you have been the target of wrongful termination, you deserve to obtain the best representation for your situation.
In Los Angeles, California, our employment attorneys at Azadian Law Group, PC are dedicated to providing exceptional legal service and representation to people throughout Los Angeles County and the state of California. Contact our Los Angeles offices today at 213-229-9031 to speak to one of our dedicated attorneys about your case.