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Barstool Sports Founder Threatens To Fire Employees Engaged In Unionizing, Which Is – Duh - Against The Law

Published Thursday, August 15, 2019
by Todd Spangler/Variety
Barstool Sports Founder Threatens To Fire Employees Engaged In Unionizing, Which Is – Duh - Against The Law

(NEW YORK CITY) - Dave Portnoy, founder of Media Company Barstool Sports, says he really hates Unions.  Now he’s made explicit threats to fire Employees who engage in Union-Organizing Activity - which, even if Portnoy is “joking,” has drawn scrutiny of what would represent violations of Federal Labor Laws.

Portnoy, who sold majority control of Barstool to Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group in 2016, has a history of unapologetically attacking critics and rivals.

On Monday (August 12th), he tweeted that he had heard Employees of Bill Simmons’ The Ringer wanted to Unionize and included a link to his four-year-old rant on Barstool in the wake of Gawker Writers Unionizing about how he hoped his company’s Employees would follow suit “just so I can smash their little Union to smithereens.”

That elicited a reply from Live Science Staff Writer Rafi Letzter, who offered to provide Barstool Workers info on the Unionization process and explain “how little power your boss has to stop you.”

Live Science’s Staff is represented by the Writers Guild of America East.

A day later, Portnoy said he would fire anyone who attempted to contact Letzter.

In response to another commenter, who claimed to be a lawyer offering pro-bono assistance to Barstool Employees wanting to Unionize, Portnoy wrote: “Anybody who hires this lawyer will be fired immediately and I will personally sue you for damages and back wages.”

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), it is unlawful for employers to discourage (or encourage, for that matter) Union Activities or sympathies “by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment.”

For example, the NLRB says, companies are prohibited from laying off or disciplining Employees because they are Pro-Union.

Reps for Barstool Sports and Chernin Group did not respond to requests for comment.

Is Portnoy making a “joke” with the Union-Busting rhetoric or is he in fact trying to discourage Barstool Staffers from contemplating taking any steps to join a Union?

Even if it’s just an attempt to troll company critics, make no mistake: Barstool Sports management really doesn’t want its Workers to Unionize.

But not everyone found Portnoy’s comments funny.

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat-New York), quoted Portnoy’s comment about firing Pro-Union Employees and tweeted: “If you’re a boss tweeting firing threats to employees trying to Unionize, you are likely breaking the law & can be sued, in your words, ‘on the spot.’ ALL Workers in the US have the protected freedom to organize for better conditions.”

Portnoy remained defiant, replying to Ocasio-Cortez: “Hey @aoc welcome to thunder dome. Debate me.”

The New York State Department of Labor also weighed in on Portnoy’s comments, noting in a tweet that it’s illegal “to take any unfavorable action,” including termination, against Employees for Union-related activities under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

“New York is a proud Union state,” the department said. “We say no way, no how to intimidation, threats and Union Busting.”

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