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Hockey commentator claims NBC firing was anti-straight discrimination

Jeremy Roenick sued for wrongful termination, claiming NBC Sports discriminated against him as a straight man following his sexual comments about a coworker.
Jeremy Roenick plays in the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2019.
Jeremy Roenick plays in the Tournament of Champions LPGA golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2019.Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

Hockey star Jeremy Roenick sued NBC Sports and its parent companies for wrongful termination on Friday, claiming the network discriminated against him as a straight man after he made off-color remarks on a Barstool Sports podcast.

Roenick also alleges that the network retaliated against him because he was an outspoken supporter of President Trump in 2016.

Roenick was let go after joking on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast about having a threesome with his wife and Kathryn Tappen, a coworker, in a discussion about a vacation in Portugal.

“I’m swimming with my wife and Kathryn, and they’ve got their bikinis on, and they look f—in’ smokin’,” he said on the podcast in December. “Ass and boobs everywhere. It’s great.”

Roenick was quickly suspended. He issued an apology, and his supervisor, Sam Flood, subsequently informed him that he was fired, according to the lawsuit.

Roenick also states that he asked Flood for permission to speak at the Republican National Convention in 2016. According to the suit, Flood responded: “I’m not saying what you can do. You know who you work for. You work for NBC. That would not look good on your NBC record.”

The hockey star alleges that Flood subsequently made derogatory remarks about Trump to Roenick, such as “your boy is messing up this country.” Roenick alleges that his support for Trump was one of the reasons leading to his firing.

The lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court, also accuses NBC Sports of violating the state law against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. The suit names Sam Flood, NBC Sports Group, NBC Sports Network, NBCUniversal, Comcast Corporation and 10 "John Does" as defendants.

Following requests for comment to Sam Flood and the NBC Sports Group, Gregg Hughes, the group's senior vice president for communications, said, "We have no comment on that story."

NBC Sports and NBC News Digital are both part of Comcast NBCUniversal.

The suit points to controversy over a promotional video involving NBC figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, which involved some vulgar language and an insinuation of an affair. The suit notes that neither Weir nor Lipinski were suspended or terminated.

Roenick said that he had also told Flood that Weir used “colorful commentary” about skaters’ body parts during the 2018 Olympics. Flood allegedly responded that Weir “is gay and can say whatever.”

The suit also accuses NBC of breaching Roenick’s contract by firing him without good cause, and by failing to give him a reasonable opportunity to correct the violation.

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