HARTFORD, Conn. — A former on-air personality at ESPN has filed a lawsuit alleging she was subjected to sexual harassment at the cable television sports giant and then ostracized for complaining about it.
The lawsuit filed Sunday in federal court in Connecticut by Adrienne Lawrence describes an atmosphere in which male employees openly watch pornography on their computers and keep “scorecards” naming female colleagues they are targeting for sex.
The network said in a statement that it investigated the allegations raised by Lawrence and they are without merit.
Lawrence, who served a fellowship at ESPN, said in the lawsuit that she was subjected to unwelcome advances from anchor John Buccigross. She says he sent her unsolicited shirtless photos and used inappropriate nicknames like “doll” for her.
The lawsuit alleges that Lawrence was denied opportunities for professional development and passed over for a permanent job in retaliation for complaining to supervisors and the human resources department.
In its statement, ESPN said Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told that her contract would not be renewed.
“At that same time, ESPN also told 100 other talent with substantially more experience, that their contracts would not be renewed,” the network said. “The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
Last summer Lawrence filed a complaint against the Bristol, Connecticut-based cable television sports giant with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The allegations against Buccigross were first reported in December by The Boston Globe, and he said in a statement to the newspaper that he considered Lawrence a friend and was sorry if he offended her.