ESPN Files Motion to Dismiss Sage Steele’s Free Speech Lawsuit

ESPN Files Motion to Dismiss Sage Steele’s Free Speech Lawsuit

ESPN Files Motion to Dismiss Sage Steele’s Free Speech Lawsuit

ESPN has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed Thursday by SportsCenter host Sage Steele. Steele is suing Disney’s sports network for violating its freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment.

ESPN’s filing asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to dismiss the case on the grounds that Steele never stopped receiving payments from ESPN, meaning she can’t prove that the company disciplined her. ESPN also claimed that their “creation and broadcasting of shows qualifies as protected speech,” arguing that removing Steele from broadcasts or allowing colleagues not to appear with her qualifies as free speech.

“Just as it did in the Scarlett Johansson case, Disney is responding by trying to disgrace the person who is already the victim, by disclosing facts about Sage’s salary that have absolutely nothing to do with their legal claims.” Steele’s attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement. a written statement. “The current leadership at Disney continues to denigrate talent, ignoring not only their First Amendment rights, but also employee privacy. The motion has no merit and will be rejected, as will Disney’s leadership for this outrageous behavior.”

ESPN declined to comment at the time of reporting.

ESPN Files Motion to Dismiss Sage Steele’s Free Speech Lawsuit

Steele’s lawsuit stems from comments she made in September on the podcast “Uncut with Jay Cutler,” hosted by the former NFL quarterback. Steele, who has been with ESPN since 2007, noted that Disney’s corporate vaccination policy was “sick” and “scary”, adding that she “didn’t want the vaccination” but stuck to it to stay airborne.

Steele also commented on her racial identity when asked about her experiences as a biracial woman. She said she found it “fascinating” that President Barack Obama had chosen to identify as black, despite being raised by his white mother and grandmother.

In her lawsuit, Steele alleged that ESPN put pressure on The V Foundation, a cancer charity co-founded by ESPN, to remove Steele from her role as host of a fundraising event in December 2021. Norby Williamson, executive vice president and executive editor of production at ESPN, stated in an affidavit that the decision to remove Steele came from the V Foundation, which deemed Steele’s comments “anti-scientific” and inconsistent with the foundation’s mission to raise funds. recruiting for cancer research.

Steele also claimed that ESPN removed her from their annual ESPNW summit, which she had led since 2010. Steele would interview Halle Berry at the summit. ESPN claims Berry’s public relations team would not let her participate in an interview with Steele because of her comments and the controversy surrounding it.