NBC Sports fired NHL broadcaster Jeremy Roenick in February following comments he made about co-workers Kathryn Tappen and Patrick Sharp. Now Roenick has filed a lawsuit against the company for wrongful termination. He claims that NBC discriminated against him as a straight man, as well as for his support of President Donald Trump.
According to Variety, the lawsuit accuses NBC of violating New York state law against discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. He specifically mentioned how NBC fired him after making off-color jokes on Barstool Sports' Spittin' Chiclets about having a threesome with his wife and Tappen during a vacation in Portugal. The broadcaster suspended Roenick and later fired him. The lawsuit claims that NBC took a different approach with other controversial comments.
In 2018, NBC Sports commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir participated in a promotional video. They made comments over footage of the 2018 U.S. national figure skating champion and Olympic team bronze medalist Bradie Tennell, using a vulgar term for a woman's groin. They also joked about a sexual affair.
According to the lawsuit, Roenick told his supervisor, Sam Flood, that Weir used "colorful commentary" about skaters' body parts during the 2018 Olympics. The suit alleges that Flood responded by saying that Weir "is gay and can say whatever." The lawsuit notes that NBC did not fire or suspend either commentator while spokesperson Dan Masonson emphasized that the video "was a spoof."
In addition to claims of discrimination against his sexual orientation, Roenick states that he asked Flood for permission to speak at the Republican National Convention in 2016. The lawsuit alleges that Flood responded by saying: "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."
In the lawsuit, Roenick alleges that Flood made derogatory remarks about Trump. These remarks allegedly included: "your boy is messing up this country." Roenick claims that his support for Trump was one of the reasons for his firing.
The former hockey player initially drew attention with comments about his vacation. He explained that people asked questions about whether or not he, his wife and Tappen were together. "Bro, when you walk into every place and you have two blond bombshells on each side … your chest pops out a lot more," Roenick said during the interview.
He continued to explain how someone had approached the three of them while they were enjoying the pool. The individual in question had asked what the situation was and if Tappen and Roenick's wife were both with him. Roenick responded by making a joke about a threesome.
"I play it off like we're all going to bed together every night, the three of us," Roenick continued. "If it really came to fruition, that would really be good, but it's never going to happen." Roenick also made comments about his former teammate, Sharp, saying: "he is so beautiful, I'd have to think about it if he asked me. I wouldn't say no right away."