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Jeremy Roenick Sues NBC Sports for Anti-Straight Discrimination in Firing

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I think we may see more people come forward now.  Once a complaint has been lodged often more come to light.

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31 minutes ago, JohnC said:

Unless there is more information behind the scenes it seems that he was fired for his singular juvenile comments on a radio show about two colleagues who he is friends with. I have not heard any comments that Roenick has a history of improper behavior relating to sexual harassment. It's not unusual that more is going on about an incident and individual that the public is privy to. So I won't dismiss that possibility. However,  I just haven't heard anyone (anonymous or not) coming forward complaining how he conducts himself. 

Those are fair points. I think I'm sort of hoping that there's more to it than a single incident giving rise to cancellation and banishment.

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1 hour ago, That Aud Smell said:

Those are fair points. I think I'm sort of hoping that there's more to it than a single incident giving rise to cancellation and banishment.

Wow, now that's sexual harassment is it not? I think Jeremy would be trivvy to it though, LOL.

Edited by MakeSabresGrr8Again

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1 hour ago, That Aud Smell said:

Those are fair points. I think I'm sort of hoping that there's more to it than a single incident giving rise to cancellation and banishment.

I listened to the podcast when it happened and I'm surprised NBC took the action they did.  I'm not sure if more came to light recently, but here is what I'm working with:

1) JR was warned beforehand by NBC to keep it appropriate - so he knew they were listening and this was his version of appropriate

2) He made some comments/told a story about a female colleague that would be inappropriate for the workplace around her appearance and about a potential threesome

3) The comments/story centered around a personal trip JR, his wife, and the female colleague took together

4) He made similar appearance comments about a male colleague, although they were not positive in nature

5) During the podcast JR spoke at length on the professionalism and intelligence he felt his female colleague brought to the table


I think a lot of this case is dependent on the conversation NBC had with JR before the podcast.  My assumption is they reviewed the nature of the podcast, JR's personality and candidness, and applicable NBC rules around appropriateness.   JR may be able to point to deficiencies in training or around expectations based on the feedback he received, or previously received.

The discussion had to do with a personal trip which makes the HR implications a bit dicey.  What role was JR representing on the podcast, is he always a representative of NBC sports, or is he also afforded some leeway since he has multiple roles and a public personality.  Curious what NBC's policy is here and how liability is contractually quantified or assigned (if at all).

I'm very interested in watching how/if this will be litigated because not only does it have the the potential to set precedent when it comes to protected classes, it also exposes some of the fundamental flaws we see in today's "cancel culture" where preponderance of evidence is not met before a verdict is rendered.

 

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13 minutes ago, SHAAAUGHT!!! said:

I listened to the podcast when it happened and I'm surprised NBC took the action they did.  I'm not sure if more came to light recently, but here is what I'm working with:

1) JR was warned beforehand by NBC to keep it appropriate - so he knew they were listening and this was his version of appropriate

2) He made some comments/told a story about a female colleague that would be inappropriate for the workplace around her appearance and about a potential threesome

3) The comments/story centered around a personal trip JR, his wife, and the female colleague took together

4) He made similar appearance comments about a male colleague, although they were not positive in nature

5) During the podcast JR spoke at length on the professionalism and intelligence he felt his female colleague brought to the table


I think a lot of this case is dependent on the conversation NBC had with JR before the podcast.  My assumption is they reviewed the nature of the podcast, JR's personality and candidness, and applicable NBC rules around appropriateness.   JR may be able to point to deficiencies in training or around expectations based on the feedback he received, or previously received.

The discussion had to do with a personal trip which makes the HR implications a bit dicey.  What role was JR representing on the podcast, is he always a representative of NBC sports, or is he also afforded some leeway since he has multiple roles and a public personality.  Curious what NBC's policy is here and how liability is contractually quantified or assigned (if at all).

I'm very interested in watching how/if this will be litigated because not only does it have the the potential to set precedent when it comes to protected classes, it also exposes some of the fundamental flaws we see in today's "cancel culture" where preponderance of evidence is not met before a verdict is rendered.

 

This is all pretty well thought out, except that it's not nearly as grey as you seem to think it is. I'm pretty sure I'd get fired if I did the same thing. "Oh, that's just JR" is *specifically* mentioned in HR training that it's not an excuse. Simple answer is JR should have been an adult and not say stupid ***** about coworkers, or anyone else. I don't know the podcast, so if this is normal he could have declined to appear. If the hosts led him into it, he could have said, "Nah, man, that's garbage. I'm not talking about my friends/coworkers like that, grow up." But he didn't choose to do any of those things, he said stupid ***** and now whining that he's getting called on it.

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6 hours ago, MattPie said:

This is all pretty well thought out, except that it's not nearly as grey as you seem to think it is. I'm pretty sure I'd get fired if I did the same thing. "Oh, that's just JR" is *specifically* mentioned in HR training that it's not an excuse. Simple answer is JR should have been an adult and not say stupid ***** about coworkers, or anyone else. I don't know the podcast, so if this is normal he could have declined to appear. If the hosts led him into it, he could have said, "Nah, man, that's garbage. I'm not talking about my friends/coworkers like that, grow up." But he didn't choose to do any of those things, he said stupid ***** and now whining that he's getting called on it.

I agree we would get fired and that JR chose to say stupid *****.  100%.   But I don't think he is whining.  He believes he was fired for behavior that would be acceptable if one of his peers did the same thing, and he has cited specific examples to back up his claim.  JR thinks he is the victim here (I'm not saying he's the only one) and he has made a reasonable argument up to this point (which is almost as shocking as going on vaca....nevermind).  

Interestingly enough this topic reminded me I was overdue to take my companies NYS mandated harassment and discrimination training.  I kept this example in mind and it 100% could be sexual harassment on his part if she felt harassed, even if that wasn't his intent.  To me this is the grey area.  I think its safe to assume if they are friends and vacationing together they most likely have a certain level of rapport and have had conversations about what's appropriate to discuss at work.  He may have crossed that line, and if so the firing is justifiable and his lawsuit will be dismissed.  But if he didn't cross that line, and she didn't feel harassed, NBC may have over-reacted and the termination may not have been just.  

It's like Law and Order: NHL Unit

 

Edited by SHAAAUGHT!!!

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1 minute ago, SHAAAUGHT!!! said:

I agree we would get fired and that JR chose to say stupid *****.  100%.   But I don't think he is whining.  He believes he was fired for behavior that would be acceptable if one of his peers did the same thing, and he has cited specific examples to back up his claim.  JR thinks he is the victim here (I'm not saying he's the only one) and he has made a reasonable argument up to this point (which is almost as shocking as going on vaca....nevermind).  

Interestingly enough this topic reminded me I was overdue to take my companies NYS mandated harassment and discrimination training.  I kept this example in mind and it 100% could be sexual harassment on his part if she felt harassed, even if that wasn't his intent.  To me this is the grey area.  I think its safe to assume if they are friends and vacationing together they most likely have a certain level of rapport and have had conversations about what's appropriate to discuss about at work.  He may have crossed that line, and if so the firing is justifiable and his lawsuit will be dismissed.  But if he didn't cross that line, and she didn't feel harassed, NBC may have over-reacted and the termination may not have been just.  

It's like Law and Order: NHL Unit

 

And, maybe he's right & NBC has looked the other way about this recently with employees that don't fit into the same demographic bins that Roenick fits.  Or, maybe after Matt Lauer's escapades and the hits to its reputation because of them, the company has lowered the bar of what it considers terminatable behavior.

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16 hours ago, Taro T said:

And, maybe he's right & NBC has looked the other way about this recently with employees that don't fit into the same demographic bins that Roenick fits.  Or, maybe after Matt Lauer's escapades and the hits to its reputation because of them, the company has lowered the bar of what it considers terminatable behavior.

Yeah, I can see this come across an exec's desk and him going full Mutombo

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On 7/19/2020 at 9:21 AM, JohnC said:

If she was upset with his comments she would have discussed the matter with him and made her feelings known and resolved the issue between them.

Even if she wasn't upset with him, NBC would need to separate them.  If the notoriety became too much it could lead to further abuses.  Since they're both hockey reporters, he needed to be let go.

On 7/19/2020 at 9:21 AM, JohnC said:

There is a too quick "boycott" response if a person has a particular political or values leaning. 

I wouldn't describe embrace of rape culture a legitimate set of values.

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On 7/19/2020 at 10:54 AM, JohnC said:

A colleague and friend who makes a raunchy comment about her and another colleague in a bad attempt of humor on a jock radio show does not constitute or come close to constituting a hostile work environment.

That's not your call to make.

On 7/19/2020 at 10:54 AM, JohnC said:

You are extrapolating a boorish incident outside of the workplace beyond its significance. 

Outside the workplace, and publicly broadcast.  The public aspect makes a big difference.

 

 

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On 7/19/2020 at 3:25 PM, Weave said:

Their employer is legally bound to ensure a work environment free from sexual harassment

fify

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11 hours ago, JohnC said:

I just haven't heard anyone (anonymous or not) coming forward

They have no reason to.  If this was part of a pattern, it's over.  No sense in rehashing it.  Anyone who does (even anonymously) risks losing their job if they work at NBC and possibly further legal action from Roenick.  When people have been fired for disciplinary reasons where I work, no one who knows anything says anything about the incident.  That's basic corporate culture.

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33 minutes ago, Doohickie said:

They have no reason to.  If this was part of a pattern, it's over.  No sense in rehashing it.  Anyone who does (even anonymously) risks losing their job if they work at NBC and possibly further legal action from Roenick.  When people have been fired for disciplinary reasons where I work, no one who knows anything says anything about the incident.  That's basic corporate culture.

If someone has a history of being a sexual harasser and is publicly outed what usually follows is a flood stream of anonymous stories about the abuser. If a person has a reputation for inappropriate behavior it will come out. I am not aware of any stories about Roenick being involved in such bad behavior. 

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Not sure why you feel compelled to defend a slimeball.

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Apologies to the regulars for wading in every few years on a random, non-Sabres topic, but just wanted to comment on this issue and provide some (maybe) context about what Roenick's case possibly looks like, mostly to cut through the BS.

I have seen several posters reference sexual harassment. This case is not necessarily about sexual harassment, but rather whether NBC treated Roenick differently than a similarly situated employee outside of his alleged protected classification. Roenick is alleging he was discriminated against because he is straight and engaged in substantially similar behavior as a co-worker, apparently sexual harassment, and was treated differently than Weir and, to a lesser extent, Lipinsky. While I do not know New York state or Second Circuit precedent (and without doing the research), it seems likely that the traditional McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis would apply, and the following assumes this. I agree with Eleven that the holding of Bostock means that the sexual orientation of "straight" is now protected. I do not know what the treatment of "similarly-situated" is in New York, but down south, the Eleventh Circuit has recently clarified that "similarly situated" means similarly situated in all material respects. It seems unlikely that a part-time Olympic commentator is similarly situated to a full-time NHL analyst; I have to believe that there are different reporting structures, managers, etc. 

Even assuming that Roenick could articulate a prima facie case (i.e., he belongs to a protected classification, was qualified for his position, suffered an adverse action, and was treated differently than a similarly-situated co-worker), NBC will be able to articulate that it had a legitimate business reason for terminating his employment for making lewd comments about co-workers. Regardless of whether those comments occurred in the workplace is irrelevant. Roenick cannot unring that bell and claim that just because it happened outside of work means NBC must ignore it. Again, like Eleven acknowledged, had NBC not done anything, Tappen and Sharp could have a viable sexual harassment claims against NBC. In those situations, NBC's legal duty is to take prompt remedial action when it learns of potentially harassing behavior; it did, which was Roenick's termination.

Roenick bears the ultimate burden of demonstrating that NBC's legitimate reason for his termination was mere pretext for illegal discrimination. He needs evidence, not his own subjective beliefs. That is, he needs to show that but for his sexual orientation, he would not have been terminated. While Bostock watered down the but-for analysis (my opinion), this is still a hurdle.

This presupposes that the parties are going to throw down, litigate the snot of this case, and, if NBC does not win summary judgment, take the case to trial. A lot of ifs here. 

TL;DR - This is likely a move to leverage settlement and I would not be surprised to see in a few months a statement that both sides have agreed to resolve this case confidentially.

Edited by His Terbness
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7 hours ago, His Terbness said:

I agree with Eleven that the holding of Bostock means that the sexual orientation of "straight" is now protected.

As discussed somewhat upthread, I'm not sure whether SCOTUS in Bostock established sexual orientation as a protected class. And the more I think about it, the more I tend to doubt it. Gorsuch talked about how the basis of the ruling had been there all along, or words to that effect -- that the Court wasn't breaking new ground. The protected class remains the same: Sex. And that's in the statute itself, which makes sense given Gorsuch's professed textualism. So, in that light, I wonder whether the ruling in Bostock is going to be specific to adverse actions taken against gay people and transgender people on account of their sex, e.g., employer fires a male employee because he openly dates men, but the same employer would (perhaps obviously) not discipline a woman for dating men (thus, disparate treatment on account of the employee's sex). Maybe Roenick makes more traction with the Lipinski (sp) comparison -- the female commentator gets to make all kinds of blue, raunchy jokes (I think this is alleged?), but Roenick does not. Not because Roeneick is straight, but because he's male.

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10 hours ago, His Terbness said:

 

Roenick bears the ultimate burden of demonstrating that NBC's legitimate reason for his termination was mere pretext for illegal discrimination. He needs evidence, not his own subjective beliefs. That is, he needs to show that but for his sexual orientation, he would not have been terminated. While Bostock watered down the but-for analysis (my opinion), this is still a hurdle.

 

When his boss replied about Weir that "He's gay, he can say anything he wants", wouldn't that possibly be proof?

Nobody brought up about Roenick's claim of being "straight"  While he claims to be straight, his comments could lead one to believe he may be more "bi-sexual" and may at least bear burden on him to prove otherwise. Either way, it's orientation and he was treated differently than Weir.

This is all just opinion and feel free to correct me if I'm in anyway wrong as I in no way a legal eagle.

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On 7/21/2020 at 12:59 AM, His Terbness said:

Apologies to the regulars for wading in every few years on a random, non-Sabres topic, but just wanted to comment on this issue and provide some (maybe) context about what Roenick's case possibly looks like, mostly to cut through the BS.

I have seen several posters reference sexual harassment. This case is not necessarily about sexual harassment, but rather whether NBC treated Roenick differently than a similarly situated employee outside of his alleged protected classification. Roenick is alleging he was discriminated against because he is straight and engaged in substantially similar behavior as a co-worker, apparently sexual harassment, and was treated differently than Weir and, to a lesser extent, Lipinsky. While I do not know New York state or Second Circuit precedent (and without doing the research), it seems likely that the traditional McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis would apply, and the following assumes this. I agree with Eleven that the holding of Bostock means that the sexual orientation of "straight" is now protected. I do not know what the treatment of "similarly-situated" is in New York, but down south, the Eleventh Circuit has recently clarified that "similarly situated" means similarly situated in all material respects. It seems unlikely that a part-time Olympic commentator is similarly situated to a full-time NHL analyst; I have to believe that there are different reporting structures, managers, etc. 

Even assuming that Roenick could articulate a prima facie case (i.e., he belongs to a protected classification, was qualified for his position, suffered an adverse action, and was treated differently than a similarly-situated co-worker), NBC will be able to articulate that it had a legitimate business reason for terminating his employment for making lewd comments about co-workers. Regardless of whether those comments occurred in the workplace is irrelevant. Roenick cannot unring that bell and claim that just because it happened outside of work means NBC must ignore it. Again, like Eleven acknowledged, had NBC not done anything, Tappen and Sharp could have a viable sexual harassment claims against NBC. In those situations, NBC's legal duty is to take prompt remedial action when it learns of potentially harassing behavior; it did, which was Roenick's termination.

Roenick bears the ultimate burden of demonstrating that NBC's legitimate reason for his termination was mere pretext for illegal discrimination. He needs evidence, not his own subjective beliefs. That is, he needs to show that but for his sexual orientation, he would not have been terminated. While Bostock watered down the but-for analysis (my opinion), this is still a hurdle.

This presupposes that the parties are going to throw down, litigate the snot of this case, and, if NBC does not win summary judgment, take the case to trial. A lot of ifs here. 

TL;DR - This is likely a move to leverage settlement and I would not be surprised to see in a few months a statement that both sides have agreed to resolve this case confidentially.

So, if the comments came from Roenicks wife about wanting to have a threesome with Tappen and her husband, would she have been fired?

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