In court documents filed yesterday, former ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Harold Reynolds claims that race played a role in his firing from ESPN in July of 2006.
Reynolds has filed a wrongful termination suit against the network seeking up to $15 million for breach of contract, wrongful dismissal and defamation of character after the network dismissed him on sexual-harassment charges. (read the first interview Reynolds conducted after his firing from ESPN)
In the filing, Reynolds claims that the network treated him more harshly than white employees who engaged in similar behavior. The documents detail claims of offensive drunken acts, that in Reynolds’ mind, were more egregious than the hug that he gave an employee, who later complained to ESPN. As reported by the NY Times:
“ESPN’s rush to its decision to terminate Mr. Reynolds was affected by racial bias,” the filing said. Reynolds now works for mlb.com.
The incidents listed included one in which an analyst showed a cellphone photograph of his genitals to male and female employees and received a one-week suspension. In June, a makeup artist for “Cold Pizza,” a defunct talk show, sued ESPN, saying she was fired after complaining about sexual harassment by the host, Jay Crawford, and an analyst, Woody Paige.
A court date in the Reynolds case has been set for February of 2009.
(see court documents regarding the Reynolds case here in PDF format, and can be read here in our Business of Baseball (BOB) Documents library. Read the initial complaint by Reynolds )
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.
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