I’ll explain why a federal court determined the complaint of a sports radio talk show host failed to state a claim upon which relief could be based.
On October 21, 2021, the plaintiff filed an employment discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against his former employer, contending that he was terminated due to his religion, race, gender, and political views. I’m going to focus just on the religious discrimination piece.
According to this complaint, the plaintiff was the long-time on-air talk show host for a popular sports radio talk show in California for which he had an employment contract. Separately, he announced games on television for a professional basketball team.
In addition to having a career in sports commentary, the plaintiff is a lifelong and devout member of the Unitarian Universalist Church and embraces the seven principles espoused by the church, including, among others, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person. However, plaintiff also believed that religion and politics were inappropriate on-air material during a sports broadcast and therefore “always kept his religious and political beliefs to himself,” even though his employment contract did not require him to do so.
On the evening of May 31, 2020, the plaintiff was at his home watching regional and national news broadcasts that were televising events involving protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. At approximately 8:30 p.m. A former local basketball player tweeted to the plaintiff, asking his opinion: “What’s your take on [Black Lives Matter]?” Plaintiff replied, “Hey!!! How are you? Thought you forgot about me. Haven’t heard from you in years. ALL LIVES MATTER … EVERY SINGLE ONE.”
This did not go over well with the plaintiff’s employer, who promptly suspended and terminated his employment for cause.
The plaintiff maintained that his ALL CAPS “ALL LIVES MATTER” statement was an expression of his sincerely held religious beliefs as a member of the Unitarian Church, his “opinion with regards to the sanctity of all lives.” Therefore, he claimed that his religion unlawfully motivated his termination of employment.
But here’s the problem. Scroll back up a few lines.
The plaintiff alleged that he always kept his religious views to himself. Translation: the defendant did not know his religion. And that makes it impossible to discriminate against Unitarians, let alone know that the plaintiff’s tweet was somehow an expression of a religious belief on his part. (The plaintiff never alleged that his tweet was self-evidently religious.) He also didn’t allege that the defendant replaced him with someone of a different religious creed.
All told, there was nothing to infer that the defendant fired the plaintiff because of his religious beliefs.
Not even in California.