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David Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports–a frat-style and often misogynistic publication geared toward young men–is being sued over tweets, in which he threatened his employees against unionizing.
Lawyer David Rosenfeld saw the tweets and decided to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The only thing he’s asking for? A public apology. Rosenfeld wants Barstool employees to know that they have the protected right to organize for better working conditions.
When Portnoy found about the lawsuit, he riled up another feud on Twitter.
“So they are suing for a heart felt apology? Is that really what I just read? How about this? Go fuck yourself. Case dismissed,” Portnoy tweeted.
So they are suing for a heart felt apology? Is that really what I just read? How about this?— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 16, 2019
Go fuck yourself.
Case dismissed. https://t.co/urDlsqxvb4
How soft do you have to be to sue for an apology?— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 16, 2019
“The Charging Party seeks as relief that Mr. Portnoy be required to tweet and otherwise publicize his severe and sincere apology”
Oh no! The blue checkmark brigade means business!
Portnoy’s Twitter antics were how the lawsuit started in the first place. Employees at fellow media organization the Ringer started a union. Portnoy tweeted “a reminder” about how he feels about unions. That’s when journalist Rafi Letzter tweeted back, offering help to Barstool employees.
“If you work for Barstool and want to have a private chat about the unionization process, how little power your boss has to stop you, and how you can leverage that power to make your life better: my DMs are open,” Letzter tweeted.
In response, Portnoy said if his employees messaged Letzter they’d be fired “on the spot.”
If you work for Barstool and want to have a private chat about the unionization process, how little power your boss has to stop you, and how you can leverage that power to make your life better: my DMs are open.— Rafi Letzter (@RafiLetzter) August 13, 2019
Obviously, Portnoy received a lot of backlash in response, yet, he continued to push back. One Twitter user wrote, “I hope they unionize.” Portnoy was quick to respond with, “Me too. Just so I can crush it and reassert my dominance.”
Me too. Just so I can crush it and reassert my dominance. https://t.co/DoLl61wRVW— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 13, 2019
That’s when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) jumped in to remind Portnoy that U.S. workers have the right to unionize for better conditions.
“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,'” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
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.”— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 13, 2019
ALL workers in the US have the protected freedom to organize for better conditions.
See @NLRB &union orgs like @AFLCIO for tips. https://t.co/bU7WlHrp1d
After the barrage of Twitter comments, attorney Rosenfeld decided to try and bring Portnoy down a peg.
“This guy was just being stupid making these comments,” Rosenfeld told Boston.com. “It’s like Elon Musk, he just can’t keep his mouth shut. He thinks he can get away with it because [Donald] Trump does, but he won’t.”
So far, Portnoy has not issued a public apology or notified his workers that they have the right to unionize. He doesn’t seem too concerned about the lawsuit, either.
“This bag of bones is the guy suing me for an apology because I hurt his feelings. If I yell boo at him he may croak. Not exactly the most worthy adversary I’ve ever faced. Imagine wasting taxpayers dollars on this shit? He should be in jail,” Portnoy wrote of Rosenfeld.
This bag of bones is the guy suing me for an apology because I hurt his feelings. If I yell boo at him he may croak. Not exactly the most worthy adversary I’ve ever faced. Imagine wasting taxpayers dollars on this shit? He should be in jail https://t.co/cqzTksxkaG pic.twitter.com/3lQwmnI0tn— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 17, 2019
Barstools Sports and Portnoy have a history of stirring up controversy. The media company used to hold “blackout parties” near college campuses, where guests were encouraged to drink until they would blackout. At one of the events in New Jersey, 24 young people were hospitalized for intoxication. And, at an event in Boston, Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission officials confiscated 300 fake IDs.
In May, Barstool Sports was accused of extorting a comedian.
In addition, Portnoy is widely criticized for a blog post in 2010, in which he wrote, “If you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?”
- AOC dunks on Barstool Sports for violating labor law
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H/T New York Post
Sierra Juarez is a freelance journalist and fact-checker based in Mexico. She most enjoys writing about human rights and politics and working in audience engagement. Her work has appeared in the Texas Tribune, the Austin American–Statesman, and the San Antonio Current.