ESPN is a global conglomerate worth $16.9 billion dollars. Throughout most of America, those four letters are synonymous with sports. Wanna check the scores? Turn on ESPN. Planning on watching the draft? ESPN’s got it. Throwing a big party to watch the semi-finals? ESPN has you covered.
But just because you’re a media tycoon doesn’t mean you’re always right – and David M. Ring, partner at Taylor & Ring, is setting out to prove just that. This morning, Mr. Ring filed a lawsuit against ESPN for the wrongful termination of former commentator Doug Adler. The lawsuit seeks damages for:
- Wrongful termination of employment
- Breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
- Intentional interference with prospective economic relations
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent inflictions of emotional distress
Not only did ESPN wrongly fire Mr. Adler: they made sure no one else in the business would speak to him, either. They made Mr. Adler persona non grata, leading not only to extreme emotional distress, but also serious financial harm.
There is no adversary so large that justice cannot be served
Doug Adler has been a professional tennis broadcaster since 2002, and had worked for ESPN since 2008. He devoted a decade of his life to broadcasting tennis matches for that company. He’s played the sport for more than 40 years. To say that Mr. Adler was familiar with the lexicon and common phrases associated with the sport should be unnecessary – after all, no one would question Chris Berman about flea flickers, or ask Dick Vitale to explain why he called someone a bricklayer. One of those common phrases is “guerilla tennis,” used to describe an aggressive match. It’s such an ingrained part of the vocabulary of the sport, Nike once titled an ad featuring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras “Guerilla Tennis.” It has been used in countless articles about tennis players, both male and female.
So when Mr. Adler used the phrase “guerilla effect” to describe a particularly aggressive play by Venus Williams against Stefanie Voegele during the Australian Open last month, it was in the same spirit the phrase has always been used. But that’s not what the people of Twitter thought, when they mistook the word “guerilla” for “gorilla,” and accused Mr. Adler of using a racial slur. ESPN forced Mr. Adler to apologize for a mistake perpetrated by someone else entirely and fired him.
This isn’t justice. This isn’t right. This was a media conglomerate bowing to the demands of a social media platform rather than taking the time to explain what “guerilla tennis” is. They shot first and asked questions later. They labeled Mr. Adler a racist and made it impossible for him to find work.
This is not justice, and it will not stand. That is why Taylor & Ring is proud to support Doug Adler and our partner David M. Ring as they file a wrongful termination lawsuit against ESPN. We have always been the firm that stands up for the rights of the injured, the voiceless and the innocent, and we will fight in that same tradition for Mr. Adler.