Former ESPN employees sue network after they were allegedly fired for refusing Covid jab

A federal lawsuit against ESPN has been filed on behalf of two former employees who allege they were fired for failing to subject themselves to the sports company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Allison Williams, a former ESPN reporter, and Beth Faber, a long-time producer at the network, requested exemptions to the mandate based on religious and disability grounds. Both exemptions were denied, and in late 2021, both of the women were let go.

The suit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, names both ESPN and its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, and claims ESPN made “no serious attempt” to “accommodate” the women, who say they faced “discrimination… based on their religious beliefs.”

“Forcing [them] to choose between continuation of their employment and a violation of their religious beliefs in order to retain their livelihoods imposes a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ ability to conduct themselves in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” argued attorney Christopher Dunn in the filing.

As BizPac Review reported in September 2021, Williams announced that she would not be covering college football after declining to take the jab while trying to conceive her second child.

“While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother,” Williams said at the time in a statement on Twitter. “Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child.”

The reporter called the decision “deeply difficult,” adding “After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first. I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family. I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love.”

After being dismissed by ESPN, Williams went to FOX Sports, where she reported on the network’s college football sidelines this season, according to the Daily Mail.

Faber, meanwhile, had her exemption on the basis of religious grounds denied because, among other reasons, she didn’t provide ESPN with “validation from a priest” to back up her stated faith, the lawsuit alleges.

After being employed with the company for more than 30 years, Faber was told that “preferential treatment would be given to the fully vaccinated.”

Faber was given three choices, the suit contends: take the jab, apply for open jobs within the company that didn’t require the vaccine, or receive her walking papers.

On September 9, 2021, she was terminated, the lawsuit states. Williams, who also said the vaccine went against her beliefs as a Christian, was fired on October 19, 2021.

Appearing on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in October, Williams said she initially thought she’d be able to continue doing her job for ESPN if she wore a mask and submitted to weekly testing, as she had in the fall of 2020. But the sports giant offered “no exemptions whatsoever” to its requirement that all employees who traveled to events be fully vaccinated.

(Video: Daily Mail)

“I really felt like I could virtually do my job without being a risk to other people,” she told Carlson. “When we allow corporations or governments to tell us what is best for our health, that is a scary place to be.”

“That is un-American,” she stated. “That is not what takes place in the land of the free.”

Williams and Faber are seeking a trial by jury and damages.

“Due to the willful and malicious nature of the retaliation against Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit claims, “they are entitled to an award of punitive damages in an amount sufficient to deter Defendants from engaging in retaliatory conduct in the future.”


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