ESPN has filed a motion to dismiss a freedom of speech lawsuit filed by SportsCenter host Sage Steele

According to the Washington Post, the sports network asked the Connecticut Superior Court to dismiss the suit because Steele has failed to establish that the network punished her after she made a series of controversial comments while appearing on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s podcast.

In the motion ESPN wrote, “Removing Steele from broadcasts, allowing her co-workers to forgo appearing with her, and allegedly conditioning her return to those broadcasts on her issuing an apology are casting decisions that are considered conduct furthering ESPN’s protected expression.”

In April, the 49-year-old sports journalist filed a lawsuit against ESPN alleging the network violated her free speech rights and “sidelined” her after she called ESPN’s vaccine mandate “sick” and “scary,” the New York Post reported.

Steele has a history of sharing her controversial takes. She publicly criticized former President Barack Obama’s choice to identify as a Black man.

According to the Washington Post she said, “That’s his thing. I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad was nowhere to be found but his white mom and grandma raised him. But hey, you do you, I’m going to do me.”

She ­­­also blasted women journalists and told them that they play a role in preventing sexual harassment.  

“When you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too,” she declared. 

Steele is also suing the Disney company for allegedly failing to intervene and protect her from harassment from co-workers following her remarks, the Washington Post reported.

ESPN stated that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the network is not responsible for protecting Steele from her co-workers’ responses to her controversial statements, Forbes reported.

In the motion ESPN wrote, “Steele’s comments upset several of her colleagues. She may be unhappy that her co-workers disliked what she said, but ‘personality conflicts at work that generate antipathy and snubbing by…co-workers will not meet [the] standard’ for discipline.” 

Steele’s attorney, Bryan Freedman released a statement in response to the motion which read, “The motion has no merit and will be dismissed, as should the leadership at Disney for engaging in this outrageous conduct.”

Steele earns roughly $3 million per year as the anchor for SportsCenter and is slated to remain with ESPN until her contract expires in 2024.

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