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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Former ESPN announcer alleges wrongful termination

A veteran ESPN announcer has filed a lawsuit in a California court against his former employer, the sports network ESPN. The announcer is claiming wrongful termination after the network allegedly fired him for a supposed mix-up involving a racial slur. Social media backlash purportedly contributed to the decision, but the former announcer claims ESPN turned the non-issue into an ordeal that will affect him for the rest of his life.

In the announcer's coverage of a tennis match, he used the well-known term "the guerrilla effect." The term has demonstrably been used for decades in the tennis world. However, in this case, the announcer subsequently came under fire when confused listeners apparently mixed up the word "guerrilla" with a homophonic ethnic slur.

Even though the announcer technically did nothing wrong, he still agreed when instructed to apologize on air. Despite his compliance, he was fired the next day. He fears that the network's alleged mishandling of the entire situation will leave his reputation tarnished for life, effectively destroying his career. The lawsuit against ESPN and several of its executives seeks unspecified damages, as the man worries he will be unable to find work in the future, having been falsely accused of racism.

On top of the economic hardship he is now facing as a result, the former announcer also allegedly has suffered severe emotional harm and distress, for which he seeks additional damages. Though this is clearly a unique case, wrongful termination is, unfortunately, anything but infrequent. If any employee in California believes he or she has been the victim of wrongful termination, whether in retaliation by an employer or otherwise, an attorney will likely be able to offer valuable legal counsel.

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

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