Culture

ESPN Fires Veteran Producer Who Refused Covid Vaccination

(AP Photo/David Kohl, File)

Beth Faber knows sports. She knows sports media. She knows sports fans and what they want to hear and see when the game is on the line. Faber knows all of this because she’s been doing sports media with ESPN for nearly three decades.

But ESPN just fired Beth Faber, not because she reported something inaccurately, or failed to show up on time for a broadcast or refused an assignment. She was fired because her religious faith tells her not to be vaccinated against Covid.

How valued an employee was she? Here’s how Front Office Sports (FOS) described her in the introduction to a 2019 interview:

“Faber has been with ESPN Radio as a producer since its beginning in 1992. She is also is the only person in the industry that has been the lead radio producer for every BCS National Championship and CFB Playoff Championship game. She also has been part of ESPN Radio’s NBA productions every year since the network acquired the rights, and is also involved with MLB and NFL broadcasts.”

And here’s how Faber describes herself for Twitter: “Faith-Filled Mom/Producer/ESPN Radio Original/Faith over Fear always/Love to learn, listen to all sides-then ask LOTS of questions—-my kids hate this part of me.” Clearly, Faber is a serious sports radio journalist of the highest professional caliber. Sounds like a great mom, too.

Faber’s termination came after an extended negotiation/discussion with network officials in which she made clear that her declining to be vaccinated is based entirely on her Christian faith.

She complied with federal law, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender  status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

For whatever reason, ESPN ignored Faber’s request for accommodation, as required under Title VII, and terminated her. The cable sports giant, which is owned by ABC, did not respond to this writer’s request for comment.

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Given the facts of her case and her media background, Faber’s case could become the one that focuses the entire nation’s attention on the injustice of requiring any American to act contrary to their faith.

Unfortunately, there will be hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of additional case candidates with the potential to dominate headlines and generate potential landmark litigation.

Liberty Counsel (LC), the Florida-based civil liberties litigation foundation, is taking a lead role in representing legions of employees in the federal government and in the healthcare industry who are threatened with the prospect of being fired for refusing to get the jab.

In a September 3 statement, LC described the situation that is developing among hospital workers, including nurses, lab technicians, x-ray specialists, and others:

“Liberty Counsel has received thousands upon thousands of requests from health care workers requesting help with their religious exemption requests who have been told if they don’t receive the COVID shot, they will be taken off their rotation, work schedule or be fired.

“Sometimes health care workers are not even given notice of a shot requirement. Instead, the employer just questions them if they are vaccinated. If they are not, they are immediately fired. There is an intense level of stress that each of these people are facing right now.

“One of those requests was a husband who called and broke down in tears: ‘My wife will be fired on Monday. She is part of more than 50 medical workers in a nursing home who declined the jab. They are being forced to sign that they ‘voluntarily’ quit so they can’t get unemployment benefits. Do we have to?’”

 

The answer, according to LC, is clearly no, nobody can be forced to take the shot. But it’s especially difficult when you work for the very government that is both encouraging private employers like hospitals, which received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money, to mandate vaccinations and also mandating it for its own employees, civilian and military alike.

In the U.S. military, there are signs of a serious rebellion growing against mandatory vaccinations, according to LC:

“One Army officer said that entire battalions are being called into formation and the names of vaccinated personnel are called out to fall out of the formation.

“After the vaccinated personnel fall out of formation, the unvaccinated soldiers are forced onto a bus to be taken to a vaccination site. Emails are also being passed around the chain of command with lists of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons — without permission from any person on the list to share their medical information.”

There are also indications that the rebellious among the military are not limited to the ground pounders of the Army. What if highly trained fighter pilots and bomber crews bail out of the service rather than submit to orders to get the vaccination?

It is vital that readers of this column — most of whom, like me, have probably been vaccinated — understand these people refusing the jab are not simply opponents of vaccinations. They have religious and legal grounds for their decisions that must be respected.

For those seeking more information on legal options available to those who prefer not to be vaccinated, LC offers abundant resources, starting with this page. In addition, Faber’s attorney has resources available here.