Cable sports news network ESPN is the latest television entity to be hit with a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit. Former ESPN legal analyst, Adrienne Lawrence, filed suit in a Connecticut federal court alleging that ESPN created a culture where sexual harassment and discrimination were accepted and tolerated as everyday occurrences.
Lawrence started her work at ESPN as part of a two-year fellowship program. During that time, she alleges that she received unwelcome sexual advances from John Buccigross, an anchor of the network’s popular SportsCenter program. Lawrence complained to senior ESPN staff about this and other inappropriate behavior from her male colleagues. After completing her fellowship, ESPN did not offer Lawrence a full-time position with the network.
Alleged Retaliation from ESPN
According to the complaint, Lawrence believes that her lack of advancement at ESPN directly resulted from the fact that she filed sexual harassment complaints at the network. Lawrence cites several positive interactions with ESPN senior members, including the endorsement of former ESPN president, John Skipper, for leading her to believe that she would be offered a full-time position after completing her fellowship.
The complaint details several situations where male colleagues openly had lewd discussions about female colleagues and other female public figures. Lawrence also alleges that male employees with high ranking positions engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment, where female colleagues were offered professional growth opportunities in exchange for performing sexual or romantic acts.
In addition to the claims of quid pro quo and other types of sexual harassment, Lawrence also filed claims based on sex discrimination and a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In her complaint, Lawrence references the harassment of other ESPN female employees, including Jemele Hill, who resolved a dispute with SportsCenter anchor, Chris Berman, several years ago. It is expected that if the case moves forward, there will be other parties coming forward to support Lawrence’s claims that the culture of ESPN has created a breeding ground for sexual harassment and discrimination.
ESPN has commented that Lawrence’s claims are without merit and that the nonrenewal of her contract was unrelated to the fact that she filed sexual harassment complaints with the network. According to an ESPN spokesman, 100 other talent development trainees were not offered a position at the end of their fellowship.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Assist Individuals Facing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment, discrimination, and quid pro quo sexual harassment take place at every type of workplace. If you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, discrimination, or quid pro quo sexual harassment, the Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are here to help. We have offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to serve individuals from the surrounding areas. Call us today at 215-569-1999 to schedule your free confidential consultation or contact us online.