If you haven’t already heard, ESPN expert baseball analyst and former New York Mets’ General Manager was fired from ESPN for having an affair with a production assistant. The same thing happened to Harold Reynolds, who supposeably improperly hugged a co-worker and asked her out to dinner. Reynolds was released from ESPN and his deal reportedly had $5 million left on it that the network refused to payout. Reynolds filed a lawsuit, in which he won a reported undisclosed large seven-figure settlement.
Steve Phillips wife filed for divorce in early September and the affair just recently went public. Phillips is still currently married by law, and the co-worker was reportedly caught at his residence. The tabloids and gossip Hollywood media made a huge deal about the story and thus Phillips took a leave of absence, similar to what ESPN employee Erin Andrews did recently when videos surfaced of her online naked in a hotel.
Instead of giving Phillips the benefit of the doubt, they pulled the trigger on him. Morally, it is wrong to cheat on a spouse. From a workplace perspective, Steve Phillips did not break any laws. And while it’s hard to stick up for someone as low as Phillips, I would hate to see this happen to another employee who is not married at ESPN.
It’s not illegal to sleep with a co-worker or supervisor. The relationship was consensual and Phillips never committed a crime. ESPN crossed the line when they fired Phillips for this reason.
Phillips has every right to take the Harold Reynolds route and file a lawsuit against the company for wrongfully dismissing him. It’s not his fault the Hollywood media made a huge deal of a situation that happened in his private life. I am not defending his poor choices and poor judgment (22 year old Brooke Hundley), but the fact that he did not break any workplace rules.
People meet and hookup in the workplace all the time. Go to any restaurant and the bartender is probably hooking up with the waitress. Go to any law firm, and the lawyer might be engaged to the intern. Lawyers marry interns, professors marry students, and doctors marry nurses. Since when did ESPN think they could rewrite the concept of laws? Do they expect people to all be programmable machines who are on the clock 24/7?
David Letterman hooked up with a handful of the production workers on the CBS staff. Even Bill Clinton kept his job after he had a few encounters with Monica. It was all consensual. People meet people at work and they develop relationships with these people. ESPN has crossed the line and I hope that Phillips sues the company for improperly dismissing him.