Sage Steele leaves ESPN after settling her lawsuit over COVID vaccine feedback


“Having efficiently settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I’ve determined to go away so I can train my first modification rights extra freely.”

Sage Steele speaks on the fifteenth annual Excessive Faculty Athlete of the Yr Awards in Marina del Rey, California, July 11, 2017. Chris Pizzello / AP, File

ESPN and host Sage Steele have settled a lawsuit she filed after being disciplined for feedback she made concerning the firm’s coverage requiring staff to get vaccinated towards COVID-19.

Steele posted on social media Tuesday that she is leaving the Bristol, Connecticut-based firm, the place she has labored since 2007.

“Having efficiently settled my case with ESPN/Disney, I’ve determined to go away so I can train my first modification rights extra freely,” she wrote. “I’m grateful for therefore many fantastic experiences over the previous 16 years and am excited for my subsequent chapter!”

Steele was taken off the air for 10 days in October 2021 and pulled from a number of high-profile assignments, together with together with protection of the New York Metropolis Marathon, the Rose Parade, and the annual ESPNW Summit, as a result of she criticized ESPN and The Walt Disney Co.’s requirement that staff be vaccinated towards COVID-19, in keeping with her lawsuit, which was filed in Might 2022 in Connecticut Superior Court docket.

She additionally was required to make a public apology, the lawsuit mentioned.

Steele’s feedback vital of ESPN got here whereas she was talking on a podcast hosted by former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler and simply after getting the vaccine herself to adjust to the coverage, in keeping with her lawsuit.

She mentioned that whereas she revered everybody’s resolution to get vaccinated, she believed {that a} company mandate was “sick” and “scary to me in some ways.” She additionally indicated that she didn’t wish to get vaccinated however did so to maintain her job and assist her household, in keeping with the lawsuit.

Steele additionally mentioned on the podcast that she identifies as biracial and questioned former President Barack Obama’s resolution to establish himself as Black on the current U.S. Census. She additionally mentioned that feminine journalists “should be accountable as nicely” if inappropriate feedback are directed at them based mostly on how they’re dressed.

ESPN “pressured Steele to apologize, allowed media to destroy her, and let media stories that she had been suspended go unchallenged, and allowed Steele’s colleagues to defame her in violation of firm coverage with out a lot as a reprimand,” her legal professionals wrote within the lawsuit.

In June, ESPN provided to settle the lawsuit for simply over $500,000 plus attorneys charges and prices.

The phrases of the settlement disclosed Tuesday weren’t instantly made public, and Steele’s attorneys didn’t instantly return emails looking for remark.

ESPN issued an announcement confirming solely Steele’s departure from the community.

“ESPN and Sage Steele have mutually agreed to half methods,” spokesman Josh Krulewitz wrote. “We thank her for her many contributions over time.”