Former NBA announcer Grant Napear, who was fired by Sacramento radio station Sports 1140 KHTK after posting “All Lives Matter” on Twitter, is suing the station’s parent company for wrongful termination.
Napear, the longtime TV voice for the Sacramento Kings, was placed on administrative leave by KHTK last June, just one day after a seemingly random exchange with former Kings star DeMarcus Cousins, who asked on Twitter about the broadcaster’s take on the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Hey!!!! How are you? Thought you forgot about me. Haven’t heard from you in years. ALL LIVES MATTER…EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!” Napear replied.
The KHTK, where Napear hosted a talk show with former Kings star Doug Christie, announced his dismissal the next day, citing the ongoing unrest sparked by George Floyd’s death. Napear also resigned from his television job with the Kings.
“The timing of Grant’s tweet was particularly insensitive,” Bonneville International, the owner of KHTK, said in a statement. “In the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death and the events of the last several days, it is crucial that we communicate the the tremendous respect that we have for the black community and other groups or individuals who have cause to feel marginalized.”
In his complaint filed on Thursday at the Eastern District of California, Napear alleged the decision to fire him was “substantially motivated by illegal animus” based on his “Gender (male), Race (Caucasian) and Religion.”
Napear also alleged in the complaint that no one from Bonneville had ever told him whether he was fired for “material dishonesty,” “misconduct,” or “other conduct that might discredit the goodwill, good name or reputation of the company,” and that Bonneville’s statement made it sound like he was fired “for cause.”
“Napear’s opinion regarding the sanctity of all lives was not an act of misconduct,” the complaint reads. “Bonneville never provided Napear with any guidance, restrictions or other instructions or advice regarding how to respond to any questions regarding Black Lives Matter. The expression of Napear’s opinion during off-duty hours was not a violation of any contract term or provision.”
The statement “All Lives Matter,” according to Napear, is “entirely non-racist, factually true and inherently inoffensive.” He also said it is a “direct reflection and expression” of his “sincerely held religious belief” as a Unitarian Universalist.
Napear is seeking lost and future wages, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages, and legal fees, in an amount that exceed $75,000.
Bonneville said they could not comment on pending litigation.