Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fox Sports Testifies Lying to Media over Sportscaster's Firing Because of Religious Views


Fox Sports President Eric Shanks—named the most powerful person in sports by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal—testified under oath that Fox Sports misled the media at a high executive level over the controversial firing of noted sportscaster Craig James last year.

“In a sworn, filmed deposition taken January 14 in Los Angeles, Mr. Shanks made the shocking assertion that Fox Sports allowed Senior Vice President for Public Relations Lou D'Ermilio to attack James' religious beliefs to a prominent newspaper, when they knew this was not the truth,” stated Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute's Managing Director of Strategic Litigation.

Liberty Institute represents James in his legal action against Fox Sports, which now includes filing a formal complaint of religious discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission. Other legal action will continue.

“Either Fox Sports is lying now, and really did violate Mr. James’ rights by firing him solely because of his legally protected religious viewpoint,” said Sasser, “or they were lying last September when they fired him, and allowed one of their top PR executives to mislead the media, defame Mr. James, and slur the millions of Americans who share his beliefs and implying they could not work at Fox. Amazingly, Mr. Shanks testified he has not even bothered to investigate this serious breach of ethics and law within his own company. Whatever the case, we are filing an employment discrimination complaint and will get to the bottom of this outrageous example of workplace bigotry against people of faith.”

Read Liberty Institute's Employment Religious Discrimination Complaint, including our completed complaint form and our letter describing Fox Sports' violations.

Last September, Fox Sports approached Craig James, a former prominent ESPN football analyst for many years following a successful NFL career—and offered him a job as a college football commentator. When he accepted the offer, Fox Sports issued a press release trumpeting Mr. James’ hiring.

But after only one program, where Mr. James was said to perform well, he was fired.

The Dallas Morning News quoted a Fox Sports spokesperson—identified by Mr. Shanks as Mr. D’Ermilio, Senior VP for Public Relations—as saying that the reason for James’ termination was a statement made by James a year earlier while he was running for the U.S. Senate. James answered a question about legalized same-sex marriage, saying that he opposed it for religious reasons, a view he shares with tens of millions of Americans.

Mr. James then retained Liberty Institute, the nation’s largest legal organization exclusively dedicated to defending religious liberty across America, to represent him.

“This is a major case for the future of religious liberty in the marketplace,” said Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute. “Imagine a nation where your business or job can be taken away, not because of anything you have done on the job but merely because of your religious beliefs. That’s what this fight is about—and why we intend to win.”

Please donate now to Liberty Institute’s efforts to defend and restore religious liberty in strategic areas of American society. Your gift will help stop the religious discrimination that threatens you, your family, your church, and our nation.

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit