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ESPN tennis announcer files wrongful termination action

The employer-employee relationship can sometimes be strained by events occurring in the workplace. While employees in New York understand that employment at-will can be terminated at any time for any reasons, there is also the understanding that an employee cannot be fired for unlawful reasons. Nonetheless, employees and employers enter murky waters when accusations of discrimination occur and an employee must be let go because of it.

This is what recently occurred with ESPN tennis announcer, Doug Adler. Based on reports, he made comments during the Australian Open. These remarks, deemed politically incorrect, were found to be offensive and discriminatory towards female tennis pro Venus Williams. Two days later, Adler was fired.

Adler made a public apology for his poor word choice. Additionally, he filed a wrongful termination and defamation suit against his former employer, ESPN. This lawsuit claims that ESPN knew the underlying purpose of his comment and that he was saying "guerrilla" and not "gorilla," which may have been appropriately deemed offensive. This distinction is critical in this matter because it is what cost Alder both his career and reputation.

A wrongful discharge not only ends a person's career, but also presents obstacles and hurdles for the former employee if it has tarnished a reputation. Therefore, in cases of a wrongful dismissal, it is possible to take steps to protect your rights and even recover compensation for damages suffered. Those dealing with this or any other employment law issue should take the time to understand the matter and what options are available to them.

Source: New York Post, "Reckless cries of racism come at the cost of common sense," Phil Mushnick, March 5, 2017

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