*Jonas Schwartz, who anchored pregame and postgame Jets coverage on SportsNet New York, is now suing the network and its parent company Sterling Entertainment Enterprises for racial discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York – as well as a complaint he filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – accuses SNY of taking Schwartz off a segment about “how football players were walking out of practice to support social justice” last August because he is white and later retaliating by firing Schwartz after he complained to HR about being the victim of discrimination.
According to both the EEOC complaint and the lawsuit, reported by The Wrap, Schwartz was due to host the aforementioned segment with Jeané Coakley, Ralph Vachianno and Bart Scott. But Coakley said in a “loud, pained voice,” “No offense, but I don’t want to do this with a couple of white guys. You can’t understand what we are going through. Why are we doing this with white guys?”
Though Vachianno, who is white, volunteered to step aside in response, Schwartz said he “believed he had a valued opinion to share, as well” but would do whatever the company directed, according to the lawsuit. Schwartz was later told by a producer, Marc Davis, to “take the week off” from the show because he didn’t “play the right position” for that week’s airing.
The lawsuit said that Schwartz later contacted two network executives — Senior Vice President of Production and Executive Producer Curt Gowdy and Senior Vice President of Content Development Brad Como — and HR manager Jackie Mellett about the situation, who “agreed Schwartz should not have been pulled” from the segment because of his race and “assured him that it would not happen again.”
But in October, according to the complaint, Schwartz was informed that he would be terminated on Feb. 27 and that SNY “plans on replacing Schwartz with a less qualified candidate for the position.”
The lawsuit is seeking a trial by jury and an unspecified amount of damages.
Below are Schwartz, Coakley, Vachianno and Scott in another conversation surrounding social justice issues and the NFL back in June of last year.