Sage Steele has finally had enough and she is walking out the door.
The longtime ESPN anchor revealed this week that she is leaving the Worldwide Leader in Sports after 16 years. According to Front Office Sports, she stated she is leaving so she “can exercise her first amendment rights more freely.”
Back in June, the company tried to offer her half a million to cover “reasonable” attorney fees to settle the “SportsCenter” anchor’s lawsuit filed in the aftermath of her comments about the network’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Steele sued ESPN and its parent company Walt Disney Co. in 2022 over allegations her First Amendment and Connecticut’s free-speech rights were violated. Steele’s attorney wasted little time stating they wouldn’t be accepting this settlement offer.
“Disney and ESPN clearly admit their liability by offering to pay Sage Steele more than half a million dollars for taking away her right to free speech,” Bryan Freedman, Steele’s attorney, said. “The offer misses the point. Disney cannot purchase their employee’s constitutional rights no matter how powerful they think they are.
“How about apologizing and treating people fairly? Let me put it this way, would Disney be willing to accept money from the state of Florida and Governor DeSantis in exchange for being silenced? Why the double standard?”
If no settlement is to happen, then the trial is scheduled to begin in March 2024.
The lawsuit alleges she was retaliated against after the comments she made on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast where she called Disney’s vaccine mandate “sick and scary.” She also drew widespread criticism for questioning why former President Barack Obama identified as Black in the U.S. Census during the same appearance.
She further claimed she was suspended by ESPN for two days, and “was forced to issue” under threat of termination.
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