Earlier today, sports media personality Elika Sadeghi posted the following contract from Barstool Sports, which she says offered her a two-year deal, but she refused to sign:
Reached for comment about this screengrab and ensuing thread (which we will publish in full below), Barstool founder Dave Portnoy told The Big Lead, “I thought it was unfair. I guess I wasn’t overly surprised based on our interactions. I think she’s somebody who wants to be part of a bigger narrative that’s going on right now and she used us as a scapegoat for it.”
“I think that’s very standard, boilerplate language [in the contract],” he continued. “I ran Barstool for 10 years without contracts. When Chernin acquired us, we obviously became more professional. They are an entertainment company familiar with writing rooms and comedy shows and that’s boilerplate, standard language so people cannot sue for offensive jokes, whether they be about gender, sex, religion, whatever — we do it all at Barstool, and we needed to protect ourselves.”
Barstool CEO Erika Nardini added, “I think Dave captured it. This clause in our contract has to do with the nature of our content. We have a broad employment agreement which covers harassment, office environment, and treatment in the workplace. And, what Elika is referring to is a clause in our contract which pertains to the nature of our content. We are a comedy brand and we make content for 18-34 year old men. Some of that content is risque in nature, and this clause covers that.”
Added Portnoy: “Again, written by lawyers in LA, and when Elika met with us she said she didn’t have any sort of vibe this was an issue but it was more of a moral thing and she actually said she was afraid to sign with us because she was afraid someone else would leak it. It turns out she was leaking it. To be honest, I think she was waiting for the right moment to do so.”
Portnoy also released the following video:
It’s sad when people who crave attention insert themselves in important stories just to make it about themselves pic.twitter.com/PlvA3NQYo3
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) October 11, 2017
Reprinted below is the full tweet thread from Sadeghi:
I wasn’t going to share this, but recent events have made me realize how important it can be. Sorry, but I’m about to clog your timeline… I was offered a full time, 2 year deal over the summer. It would’ve been fun and it would’ve paid well. No brainer, right? They wanted me to sign this. I refused, for multiple reasons. I ultimately decided I didn’t want it, even if I was exempt from signing this.
This is not ok. And if you’ve never worked in media, know that it isn’t normal. I’ve never seen anything like it. Neither have most people. The crazy thing is, it’s probably not even enforceable. It’s likely meant to make people feel like they can’t speak up if something happens. That’s how things like this happen. Not always through contracts, but through a variety of ways in which people feel powerless to speak up.
I decided to walk, even if they removed it. How could I work for them, knowing it exists? But would I have walked, if I needed the money? Would I have if I didn’t have a completely separate career path that I love? I’d like to think so, but who knows. I’m lucky-not everyone is. I’ve built (privilege has helped) a safety net that allows me to be patient, and principled, about what I do. Not everyone gets to have that.
Whether it’s explicitly stated in contracts or not, too often, people are made to feel like they can’t speak up about the inexcusable. I made clear why I was walking, that this was offensive. I hope they’ve removed it, but I doubt it, since they didn’t seem to believe me. I haven’t been sexually harassed at work in years. But I remember the paralysis that accompanies it when you don’t think anyone would care.
When you don’t know what would happen to your job. When you don’t know if you would be able to get another, if you’re a whistle blower. I hope by having more conversations about these things, others will eventually not feel that paralysis. Because they know they’re not alone. Because they know we care. Because their careers are safe, regardless of inexcusable things that are not their fault. Because they did the right thing.
Expect this to be a pretty big story in sports media circles.