Two former ESPN employees have filed a federal lawsuit against the sports media giant, alleging that the company’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement violated religious freedom rights.
ESPN and the sports network’s parent company, The Walt Disney Company, are listed as defendants in a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Connecticut on Wednesday by former ESPN reporter Allison Williams and former producer Beth Faber. , according to Front Office Sports.
Williams and Faber were fired by ESPN at the end of 2021.
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«Obligate [the] Plaintiffs choosing between continued employment and a violation of their religious beliefs in order to preserve their livelihoods places a substantial burden on Plaintiffs’ ability to conduct themselves in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs,» attorney Christopher Dunn wrote in demand, according to the point of sale.
Williams has been outspoken about vaccine mandates, saying in October 2021 on Instagram while announcing his departure from ESPN that it went against his «values and morals.»
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«ESPN and The Walt Disney Company have denied my accommodation request and, starting next week, I will be separated from the company.» williams said. «I’m not so morally and ethically aligned with this. I really had to dig in and look at my values and my morals. Ultimately I need to put them first. The irony of all this is the very values and principles that I hold dear so much is what what made me a very good employee and probably what helped me with the success that I have been able to have in my career.
Faber, who spent more than 30 years with the company, was fired in September 2021.
Dunn says ESPN made «no serious attempt» to «accommodate» them.
Williams, who worked for Fox Sports as a college football sideline reporter last season, initially applied for a waiver, saying she was «undergoing in vitro fertilization and was concerned about the potential unknown effects the vaccination would have on the fetus,» she says. the demand.
Days after filing that initial disability application, Williams followed up with a request for a religious exemption.
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«A lot of people have multiple reasons for wanting a waiver,» Dunn said. «So it’s not uncommon to see people in need of a medical exemption and a religious exemption.»
The Supreme Court has not stopped companies from enforcing their own vaccine mandates despite blocking federal efforts to mandate the vaccine.
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More than 1,000 lawsuits have reportedly been filed regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates.