ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele is suing the network and its parent company Disney for suspending her after she talked about COVID-19 vaccine mandates and Barack Obama calling himself black.
She made the comments in an appearance on former NFL star Jay Cutler’s podcast, called Uncut, last September. She said that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate by Disney forced her to get vaccinated.
“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways. But I have a job, a job that I love and, frankly, a job that I need,” she said on a podcast last September.
Steele’s legal team argues that the network violated her freedom of speech and state laws. Lawyer Bryan Freedman, when asked for comment, said: “Sage is standing up to corporate America to ensure employees don’t get their rights trampled on or their opinions silenced.”
“Despite fully complying with ESPN’s policy, Sage Steele was punished for speaking her truth in violation of freedom of speech protections under Connecticut law and the U.S. constitution,” he added.
“ESPN violated her free speech rights, retaliated against her, reprimanded her, scapegoated her, allowed the media and her peers to excoriate her and forced her to apologize simply because her personal opinions did not align with Disney’s corporate philosophy of the moment.”
A copy of the lawsuit is available here.