Former NBC Sports hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick has sued his old employer for wrongful termination, alleging that he was a victim of “anti-straight discrimination” that played a role in his firing, Variety reported.
In February, as Variety reported at the time, the former Chicago Blackhawks star was let go for remarks that he’d made a few months earlier on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. Specifically, he invoked his female NHL-analysis colleague, Kathryn Tappen, in a discussion about him fantasizing about a sex act.
“We’re in the pool one day in Portugal… and I’m swimming with my wife and Kathryn, and they’ve got their bikinis on, and they look f*ckin’ smokin’. A** and boobs everywhere. It’s great… I play it off like we’re going to bed together every night, the three of us,” he said at the time.
Tappen, for her part, called her colleague’s remarks “unacceptable,” as The New York Post reported at the time.
Roenick was immediately suspended, and he issued an apology. Later, NBC Sports confirmed in a brief statement that Roenick wouldn’t be returning to the network.
On Friday, Roenick sued his former employer and his former boss, Sam Flood. In the suit, filed in New York Supreme Court, he accuses NBC of violating the state law against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
In addition to alleging that he was fired effectively for being heterosexual, Roenick also claims that his termination was due, at least in part, to his support of President Donald Trump. He pointed to a purported incident in which he claims that Flood obliquely warned Roenick against speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention, after the former NHL star had sought Flood’s permission to give a speech.
“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,” Flood reportedly told him.
Roenick also alleged that NBC looked the other way at other people in its sports division doing similar things. He mentions a controversial promotional video in which figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir used vulgar language and insinuated that the two were having an affair.
Further, Roenick claims that he told Flood that Weir had used “colorful language” to refer to figure skaters’ body parts during the 2018 Winter Olympics, and that Flood responded, “[Weir] is gay and can say whatever.”
In his lawsuit, the former analyst alleges that his termination violated his contract by firing him without good cause, and that he was not given an opportunity to take corrective action.