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When Laurence Sullivan was hired by the National Hockey League in August of 2013, the last thing he expected to happen was that he would see his employment terminated for taking action to condemn racism in the workplace, but that is exactly what he alleges happened to him in February.

Sullivan was brought in by the NHL as an off-ice official to track in-game stats during Lightning games in Tampa Bay. During his time in Tampa, Sullivan had several encounters with another crew member using the N-word, among other reprehensible behavior.

The former NHL employee claims that comments made by Pat DeLorenzo Jr were so offensive and upsetting that he eventually took the issue to the crew chief in Tampa [Ron Brace], who reportedly failed to take the appropriate action at the time, though DeLorenzo was eventually terminated in January, along with Brace.

“I heard jokes with sexual connotations, but nothing racist,” Brace said. “None of the NHL's off-ice officials down here in Tampa is a racist."

Due to the lack of corrective action taken, Sullivan began recording his co-worker's indiscretions, which the NHL demanded that he destroy upon his dismissal in February.

The lawsuit claims that Brace had protected DeLorenzo on previous occasions where his routinely unprofessional behavior was on display, including the past dismissal of a female off-ice official shortly after reporting DeLorenzo for sexual harassment.

Sullivan was ultimately let go on February 26, 2020, under the apparent pretense that he was a part of a group message along with DeLorenzo where inappropriate behaviour was displayed. Sullivan's representation maintains that he was wrongfully terminated and that he "should be rehired by the NHL and that he should receive punitive damages for his treatment".

"[The NHL] did nothing to stop the racially discriminatory comments that were broadcast to its employees and crew every night on its communication system and in the booth shared by the off- ice officials. Instead, only after being confronted with video evidence of the wrongful behaviour, [the NHL] terminated DeLorenzo and Brace, and then terminated the whistle-blowers, including [Sullivan]. [The NHL] then promoted Gary Reilly, another NHL official that heard – and stayed silent – for all of DeLorenzo’s racial slurs.”

This is one story you may want to follow, especially if you count yourself among those who believe that racism has no place in hockey.

Check out TSN's Rick Westhead's full story below.
NOVEMBER 19, 2020  (22H05)