A veteran ESPN announcer sued the sports network Monday for firing him during the Australian Open over accusations that he had used an ethnic slur against tennis superstar Venus Williams.
Doug Adler, who began working for ESPN in 2008 covering the world’s biggest tennis matches, came under fire for a comment on Jan. 18 when he said Williams used “the guerrilla effect.” The comment went viral because it was pushed along by the New York Times on twitter labeling it as the “appalling” term “gorilla,” which “ignited the flames of anger and hatred” against Adler, the lawsuit said.
Adler was fired two days later.
He claims he was using a well-known term to describe aggressive play yet ESPN has destroyed his career.
“By the way ESPN chose to handle this non-issue, they effectively branded me, my character and my reputation for the rest of my life,” Adler told FoxNews.com.
Adler “has lost future opportunities in the sporting and business worlds because no one will hire a ‘racist,’” the lawsuit said. “He has suffered serious emotional distress and harm because he has been falsely accused of being the worst thing imaginable, and something he clearly isn’t and never has been, all over the use of the word ‘guerilla,’ a word that is commonly used in tennis.”
In addition to wrongful termination, Adler is also claiming intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and economic hardship. The suit also names ESPN Senior Vice President Mark Gross and Vice President Jamie Reynolds. It seeks unspecified damages.
Williams’ publicist did not respond to requests for comment. ESPN spokesperson Dave Nagle said, “We have not been served and we are declining further comment.”