Reynolds Sues ESPN for Wrongful Firing
Wednesday, November 1st 2006, 6:26 am
By: News On 6
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Former ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds sued the network for at least $5 million Tuesday, saying he was wrongly fired after a female intern complained about what he called a ``brief and innocuous'' hug.
Reynolds joined the sports network in 1996 after a dozen seasons as a major leaguer and was fired July 24. According to his lawsuit, filed in New Britain Superior Court, ESPN terminated his new six-year, $6 million contract without specific reasons.
``I have tried everything possible to handle this situation quietly behind the scenes,'' Reynolds said in a statement released Tuesday. ``After numerous conversations and multiple mediation discussions with ESPN executives it is clear that ESPN had no intention of solving this problem amicably.''
Reynolds is seeking the money owed to him under the remainder of his contract, including interest and lost earnings. He is also asking the court for damages for lost future opportunities.
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said Tuesday that Reynolds' allegations are without merit and the network stands by its decision to terminate his contract.
``We have no further comment now that litigation has begun,'' Krulewitz said.
According to the lawsuit, ESPN terminated Reynolds' contract ``for cause,'' but gave no further explanation or specific reasons. It also alleges that ESPN has refused to give Reynolds or state labor officials a copy of his personnel file.
His contract, according to the lawsuit, said he could only be fired for ``failure to perform,'' which required ``intentional or continual activities'' contrary to ESPN's instructions, or else required ``willful or egregious action ... which would constitute an act of moral turpitude.''
``Mr. Reynolds has never, in his career as a baseball player or with ESPN, intentionally engaged in a 'failure to perform' his duties in any material respect,'' the lawsuit said. ``For example, he was punctual, well-prepared, professional, creative and personable, both in the studio and on remote assignments.''
Joseph Garrison, a New Haven-based lawyer for Reynolds, said, ``Moral turpitude, in my opinion, is not reflected by an innocuous hug. I think the case is very strong.''
The lawsuit said Reynolds hugged a female intern in July and the two had dinner later the same night. Reynolds has not seen the intern since, and she made no complaints about his actions until three weeks later, the lawsuit said.
``For 11 years I served ESPN with enthusiasm and dedication,'' Reynolds said. ``It is unfortunate that ESPN has handled this process in an unprofessional manner. At the end of the day my integrity, reputation and family are my top priorities, and for those reasons I need to set the record straight and clear my name.''
Reynolds played for the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and the California Angels before joining ESPN. He won three Gold Glove awards and one stolen base title and was a two-time All-Star.