On January 14, 2021, Wigdor LLP filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of Casey Stern, one of the most prominent faces at Turner Sports, a subsidiary of WarnerMedia. For years, Mr. Stern has been a household name, anchoring coverage of the MLB postseason, the NCAA tournament and the NBA draft and All-Star game. He also was the top anchor on NBA TV.
Mr. Stern alleges that he was sidelined and all of his responsibilities were removed because he had to tend to childcare responsibilities related to the alleged physical abuse and torture of his children by his ex-wife and her boyfriend, and also because he requested certain accommodations related to underlying conditions and COVID-19.
As set forth in the EEOC Charge, beginning in about December 2018 and persisting through February 2020, Mr. Stern’s three young children were allegedly subjected to heinous child abuse at the hands of their own mother, Mr. Stern’s ex-wife Shanon Stern, as well as Ms. Stern’s boyfriend, Alexander Soriano. On February 28, 2020, Ms. Stern and Mr. Soriano were arrested and charged with a combined 15 felonies.
Given his stellar performance and years of dedication, as well as the nature of what he was going through, Mr. Stern understandably expected that Turner Sports would be sympathetic and accommodating when it came to his efforts to save his children. The exact opposite occurred, according to the EEOC Charge. Indeed, the complaint alleges that the company was displeased with even the smallest of accommodations requested by Mr. Stern in connection with his childcare responsibilities and began to steadily phase him out of programming over the course of the next two years.
Mr. Stern alleges that this was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, when Mr. Stern requested health-related accommodations to ensure that he remained healthy and able to care for his children. Most recently, in September 2020, Mr. Stern was informed that he was being fired as the host of Turner’s 2020 MLB postseason coverage and that his contract would not be renewed this coming August, according to the complaint.
As alleged, the treatment of Mr. Stern is just the latest example of what has become common practice at WarnerMedia and its subsidiaries. In just the last year alone, two WarnerMedia brands — The Ellen DeGeneres Show and TMZ — have been singled out in the media for, among other things: verbal abuse, racism, misogyny, intimidation, and poor treatment of crews during the COVID-19 production shutdown.
WarnerMedia Accused Of “Cruelty” & Discrimination By Casey Stern After Axed Sports Anchor’s Battle To Rescue Abused Children https://t.co/xXLzdEdzBG
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) January 14, 2021
Statement from Michael J. Willemin, Partner at Wigdor LLP
“The company’s treatment of Mr. Stern is unfathomably cruel, but unfortunately not surprising given the multiple reports of outrageous conduct at WarnerMedia over the last 12 months. Despite Mr. Kilar’s statements, the company continues to turn a blind eye and refuses to accept accountability and responsibility for its unlawful conduct.”