NFL reporter Bart Hubbuch has sued the New York Post for wrongful termination. Eventually, the Post will be required to say something, in the form of a formal response to the complaint. For now, the Post is opting to say nothing.
A spokesperson for the Post told PFT that the publication is standing on its prior comment regarding the situation.
Said the Post last week, after news surfaced of Hubbuch’s termination: “We expect our reporters to interact with the public, including on social media, in a professional manner. Unfortunately, Mr. Hubbuch has engaged in a pattern of unprofessional conduct and exhibited serious lack of judgment, including most recently showing disrespect for the victims of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.”
The Post will be required to respond within a specific time frame after being officially served with a summons and the complaint. The Post will be able to file a motion to dismiss the case if it chooses. It also can opt to submit an official answer, which responds point by point to the allegations made in the lawsuit.
The easiest argument would be to prove that Hubbuch’s tweet, which compared the inauguration of Donald Trump to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, doesn’t fall within the protections of New York Labor Law Section 201-d, which prohibits termination from employment based on “legal recreational activities outside work hours, off of the employer’s premises and without use of the employer’s equipment or other property.” If the Post can show that Hubbuch was within work hours or on the company’s premises or using a computer, tablet, or cell phone owned by the Post, the legal protection would arguably evaporate.
The unofficial playbook for defending employment discrimination cases typically entails an aggressive attack against the person who sues, with any and all plausible arguments pursued in an effort to complicate the process as much as possible and to make the case less about the conduct of the employer and more about the conduct of the employee. Whether the Post will pursue such tactics will begin to become clear after the Post begins the process of defending itself against Hubbuch’s claims.