Howard Breuer FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(213) 422-2738 Feb. 14, 2017
David M. Ring
Sportscaster Sues ESPN for Wrongful Termination
Doug Adler used the term “guerrilla” to describe Venus Williams during the Australian Open. Some thought he said “gorilla.” The network fired him when it should have defended him.
Los Angeles, Calif. – Doug Adler, the tennis analyst fired by ESPN last month after his description of Venus Williams’ “guerrilla” style of play during the Australian Open was misinterpreted by some critics, sued the network today for wrongful termination.
The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint says that although tennis experts commonly use the term “guerrilla tennis” to describe aggressive tactics, ESPN “bowed to the Twitter universe of haters and those ignorant of tennis who thought (Adler) used the word ‘gorilla’ to describe Venus Williams that day.”
ESPN Senior Vice-President Mark Gross and Vice-President Jamie Reynolds are also named as defendants.
“The irony is that Adler called everything correctly and in a professional manner, whereas ESPN did not – they recklessly made the wrong call,” said Adler’s attorney David M. Ring, of high-profile civil rights firm Taylor & Ring. “It was not only political correctness gone overboard, but also a cowardly move that ruined a good man’s career.”
The 17-page lawsuit also claims intentional infliction of emotional distress and economic damages as other employers have shunned Adler following ESPN’s firing shortly after the Jan. 18 match. Adler, who has announced some 3,000 matches, recalls “Guerrilla Tennis” was the name of a famous Nike TV commercial in the 1990s featuring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
“Obviously, (Adler) saw that commercial many times and the phrase became widely used by those who actually understood tennis vernacular and followed the sport closely,” the lawsuit says, noting that Peter Bodo, senior editor of Tennis magazine, used the term in a 2012 profile of Agnieszka Radwanska.
Adler is a Los Angeles resident and was an All-American player at USC and then world-ranked pro. He was hired by ESPN in 2008 and covered the world’s biggest tennis tournaments, including the US Open, French Open and Wimbledon. He said the network cavalierly ruined his sterling reputation cultivated over 40 years.
“It was shocking to be treated this way by folks who’ve known me forever,” Adler said. “Anyone who has ever competed in sports knows exactly the meaning of the term I used. Period.”
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