NATIONAL NEWS

Sage Steele leaves ESPN after settling her lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine comments

Aug 15, 2023, 10:35 AM

FILE - Sage Steele speaks at the 15th annual High School Athlete of the Year Awards in Marina del R...

FILE - Sage Steele speaks at the 15th annual High School Athlete of the Year Awards in Marina del Rey, Calif., July 11, 2017. ESPN and host Sage Steele have settled the lawsuit she filed after disciplined for comments she made about the COVID-19 vaccine and parted ways. Steele posted on social media Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, that she is leaving the company in order to speak more freely. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

ESPN and host Sage Steele have settled a lawsuit she filed after being disciplined for comments she made about the company’s policy requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Steele posted on social media Tuesday that she is leaving the Bristol, Connecticut-based company, where she has worked since 2007.

“Having successfully settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I have decided to leave so I can exercise my first amendment rights more freely,” she wrote. “I am grateful for so many wonderful experiences over the past 16 years and am excited for my next chapter!”

Steele was taken off the air for 10 days in October 2021 and pulled from several high-profile assignments, including including coverage of the New York City Marathon, the Rose Parade, and the annual ESPNW Summit, because she criticized ESPN and The Walt Disney Co.’s requirement that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to her lawsuit, which was filed in May 2022 in Connecticut Superior Court.

She also was required to make a public apology, the lawsuit said.

Steele’s comments critical of ESPN came while she was speaking on a podcast hosted by former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler and just after getting the vaccine herself to comply with the policy, according to her lawsuit.

She said that while she respected everyone’s decision to get vaccinated, she believed that a corporate mandate was “sick” and “scary to me in many ways.” She also indicated that she did not want to get vaccinated but did so to keep her job and support her family, according to the lawsuit.

Steele also said on the podcast that she identifies as biracial and questioned former President Barack Obama’s decision to identify himself as Black on the recent U.S. Census. She also said that female journalists “need to be responsible as well” if inappropriate comments are directed at them based on how they’re dressed.

ESPN “forced Steele to apologize, allowed media to destroy her, and let media reports that she had been suspended go unchallenged, and allowed Steele’s colleagues to defame her in violation of company policy without so much as a reprimand,” her lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

In June, ESPN offered to settle the lawsuit for just over $500,000 plus attorneys fees and costs.

The terms of the settlement disclosed Tuesday were not immediately made public, and Steele’s attorneys did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

ESPN issued a statement confirming only Steele’s departure from the network.

“ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to part ways,” spokesman Josh Krulewitz wrote. “We thank her for her many contributions over the years.”

___

AP sports: https://apnews.com/sports

National News

Associated Press

Second man arrested in the shooting of a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A second man has been arrested in the shooting of a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper, authorities said. Trooper Adam Cothron stopped a Kia Forte driven by Timothy Davis Jr. on Interstate 40 on Friday. When he approached, Davis shot Cothron, critically wounding him, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a […]

2 minutes ago

Associated Press

Search called off for small airplane that went missing in fog and rain over southeast Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The search has been suspended for a small airplane with three people aboard that went missing over southeast Alaska last weekend. “The decision to suspend is never easy,” said Lt. Matt Naylor, the search mission coordinator, said in a social media post on X Monday evening. Pilot Samuel Wright of Haines […]

6 minutes ago

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. annual convention...

Associated Press

‘We were built for this moment’: Black women rally around Kamala Harris

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Four years ago, a Zoom meeting to build support for Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice presidential nominee attracted just 90 participants. On Sunday night, an estimated 90,000 Black women and allies logged on at the same time to support her brand-new presidential campaign. Zoom typically maxes out at 1,000 participants […]

25 minutes ago

Associated Press

Cyber security startup Wiz reportedly rejects $23 billion acquisition proposal from Google

NEW YORK (AP) — Wiz has rejected a reported $23 billion acquisition proposal from Google parent Alphabet — as the cybersecurity startup pivots back to a previously-planned initial public offering, according to a company memo seen by CNBC and others. That ends the prospect of what would’ve been the most expensive acquisition in Google’s 25-year […]

60 minutes ago

FILE - People sit on Hollywood Beach, July 2, 2020, in Hollywood, Fla. Florida’s population cross...

Associated Press

Florida’s population passes 23 million for the first time due to residents moving from other states

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s population crossed the 23 million residents mark for the first time last year due to the influx of people moving from other states, according to state demographic estimates. As of April 1 of this year, Florida had 23,002,597 residents, according to estimates released earlier this month by the state Demographic […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Iowa law banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect Monday

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa judge has ruled the state’s strict abortion law will take effect Monday, preventing most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. The law passed last year, but a judge had blocked it from being enforced. The Iowa Supreme Court reiterated in […]

1 hour ago

Sage Steele leaves ESPN after settling her lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine comments