Two former National Hockey League off-ice officials allege in a newly filed lawsuit that they were fired for reporting a colleague who used racist and sexually charged language for years while working for the league.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, lawyers for David Walkowiak and James Watkins, former crew officials who worked for the NHL during Lightning games in Tampa Bay, wrote that Walkowiak and Watkins should be rehired by the NHL and receive punitive damages for their treatment.
The amount the two former officials are suing for is not specified. The NHL has not filed a statement of defence, and their allegations have not been proven in court. An NHL spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The legal complaint is similar to another lawsuit filed against the NHL in November 2020 by a former NHL official in Tampa who settled his wrongful dismissal case with the league last year.
Walkowiak and Watkins alleged in their wrongful dismissal lawsuit that both were fired on Feb. 27, 2020. Watkins had worked for the NHL since 1998 while Walkowiak was hired in September 2005.
During their tenure with the NHL, the two former officials alleged that colleague Pat DeLorenzo Jr. repeatedly used racist language at work.
“DeLorenzo made negative racial comments about [NHL] employees, including but not limited to [NHL]’s African-American hockey players and the African-American veteran, Sonya Bryson-Kirksey, who sings the national anthem at Tampa Bay Lightning games at Amalie Arena,” the lawsuit alleges.