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Two former NHL off-ice officials filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Tampa Division, on Monday, alleging they were fired by the league after reporting racist and sexist language from a colleague.
David Walkowiak and James Watkins worked as off-ice officials during Tampa Bay Lightning games and were fired in February 2020, according to their lawsuit.
They alleged that former colleague Pat DeLorenzo Jr., who worked as a scoring systems manager, used racist language against Black players and employees throughout their shared tenure, and first reported DeLorenzo’s conduct to then-Tampa crew chief Ron Brace in November 2019.
Brace and DeLorenzo were both fired in January 2020. Brace previously told Westhead that he could not recall DeLorenzo using racist language during their time together.
“Instead, only after being confronted with video evidence of the wrongful behaviour, [the NHL] terminated DeLorenzo and Brace, and then terminated the whistleblowers, including Plaintiffs Walkowiak and Watkins,” the lawsuit states.
Walkowiak and Watkins are seeking punitive damages, and are demanding that they be reinstated to their previous positions.
At the time of this filing, the NHL hasn’t publicly commented on the lawsuit.
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