Several current and former female ESPN employees have come forward to the Boston Globe with allegations of sexism at the network.
The accusations range from having pregnancies negatively impact their careers to being sent unsolicited semi-nude photos by prominent male anchors. At the heart of the story is a complaint filed in August with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities by former ESPN on-air talent Adrienne Lawrence. Other current and former employees are also quoted as saying ESPN can be a hostile work environment for women.
“We work hard to maintain a respectful and inclusive culture at ESPN,” an ESPN spokeswoman told the Globe. “It is always a work in progress, but we’re proud of the significant progress we’ve made in developing and placing women in key roles at the company in the boardroom, in leadership positions throughout ESPN, and on air.”
A brief summary of the most noteworthy accusations:
• Lawrence showed messages to Globe from longtime SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross in which he called her “dollface,” “#dreamgirl,” and “#longlegs” and sent shirtless photos of himself. (Buccigross admitted sending the photos. “I considered Adrienne to be a friend,” Buccigross told the Globe in a statement. “I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn’t my intent.”)
• One unnamed current employee said an older male colleague tried to kiss her.
• A former employee alleges sexual harassment by four men and that her complaints to human resources were in vain.
• Lindsay Czarniak learned her SportsCenter was being rebranded as the Michael Smith-Jemele Hill vehicle "SC6" shortly before she was set to go on maternity leave. The job she was offered upon her return came with a pay cut, so she decided to leave the company. Jade McCarthy had a similar experience.
• Jenn Sterger, who had a working audition for a job at ESPN in 2006, said she was shown an issue of Playboy she modeled in by an executive.
• Sterger had previously said that she was duped into going to a strip club, where she felt "extremely uncomfortable" as her coworkers got lap dances. She reveals in the Globe article that the employee who brought her to the strip club was Matthew Berry, who covers fantasy sports for ESPN.