Doug Adler, a former ESPN tennis analyst who was fired last year for his description of Venus Williams style of play, can proceed with a trial against his former employer, according to judge’s ruling.
My News LA reports, “Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer said there are triable issues of wrongful termination and negligent infliction of emotional distress in Doug Adler’s lawsuit and she denied ESPN’s motion to dismiss the case.”
The controversy began during the Australian Open in 2017.
Adler, who is white, was part of ESPN’s coverage of the Australian Open that year. During coverage of the match between Venus Williams — who is black — and Stefanie Voegele, Adler used the term “guerilla effect” to describe Williams’ tactics on the court.
Upon hearing Adler say that, many viewers thought Adler had referred to Williams’ tactics as the “gorilla effect,” causing some to believe that Adler had used a racial slur. ESPN subsequently fired Adler despite the fact he was referring to a tactic, not an animal.
The term “guerilla tactics” is meant to describe a player with a particularly aggressive style of play. In fact, the term is used in a 1995 Nike commercial featuring tennis players. A fact which is central to the case that Adler and his legal team intend to present.
“The judge said a jury should also be left to decide if ESPN was negligent in its alleged representations to Adler that he could keep his job if he issued an apology crafted by the network rather than one he dictated himself.
“Adler attended the hearing and raised his right fist in triumph after hearing Feffer’s ruling. Outside the courtoom, Adler’s lawyer, James Bryant, said the judge’s decision was sound,” My News LA reports.
Adler’s lawyer James Bryant said, “All we wanted to do was get the chance to get our case before a jury and now they’re going to decide the issues.”
The trial is set to begin on October 15th.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn