Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Sports announcer files wrongful termination suit against ESPN

The sporting world often uses colorful language that is usually reserved for military combat. A sports announcer is now suing ESPN, his former employer, for wrongful termination after he was fired for using a word that has been associated with tennis broadcasts for some time. Claims for economic hardship and intentional infliction of emotional distress were also included. The announcer, Doug Adler, may be a familiar voice for many California sports fans.

The incident occurred during a broadcast of the Australian Open. The featured match included tennis superstar Venus Williams. The man described Williams' type of play at the time as the "guerrilla effect," a term that has apparently been used in the sport for at least the past 20 years. However, the word was confused with the term gorilla, and accusations of racism then took over social media.

Adler asserts that, on the day after the match, he was instructed to issue an on-air apology for the confusion, which he did. However, in spite of doing so, he was fired the following day. It is alleged that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and that his professional career and personal reputation have been irretrievably damaged by this incident. Adler further claims that he has sustained significant monetary damages and that he fears he may no longer obtain employment in his chosen field due to the unfair accusations.

The amount of damages sought was not specified, though the lawsuit was filed against ESPN, Mark Gross (Senior Vice President) and Jamie Reynolds (Vice President). Adler's attorney noted that Adler always conducted his on-air duties in a professional manner whereas the cable network has failed to do so. ESPN has declined any public comment thus far. Any California employee who has been a victim of a suspected wrongful termination may have legal recourse. Filing a claim may allow the victim to recover monetary losses that result from any unwarranted actions. 

Source: Fox News, "ESPN sued for wrongful termination by announcer after Venus Williams match call", Feb. 15, 2017

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