THUNDER BAY – It is an issue between freedom of speech, and a company who terminated an employee. Veteran TV personality Damian Goddard, who was fired after tweeting about his support of the Catholic Church’s stance on marriage, will be filing a Human Rights complaint against his former employer, Rogers Communications Inc.
At issue is the end results of a tweet that Goddard sent from his personal account on the social networking site. On May 10, 2011, Goddard, a lifelong Roman Catholic, issued a tweet from his personal Twitter account stating: “I completely and whole-heartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and true meaning of marriage.” Approximately 24 hours later, Goddard, who has worked as a TV sports broadcaster in Canada for the past 15 years, was terminated from his position as an announcer on Rogers Sportsnet.
“We believe this sudden and very public termination represents a clear violation of Damian’s freedom of speech and his freedom of religion – two fundamental rights that are supposed to be afforded to every Canadian,” said William Gale, a partner with employment and labour law firm Grosman, Grosman & Gale, which is representing Goddard in this matter. “Critics on Twitter were calling for his head because he expressed a commonly held opinion that they didn’t like. Rogers answered that call swiftly and publicly. By doing so, they cemented the impression that his Catholic beliefs are inappropriate and grounds for dismissal. We also contend that unless it is challenged, this ‘termination after a tweet’ threatens to set a dangerous precedent for all Canadians in this still-evolving world of social media.”
Over the past six weeks, Goddard’s termination by Rogers Communications Inc. has generated international media coverage.
“My message to the millions of Canadians participating in social media is that ‘this can happen to you’,” said Goddard. “I was terminated 24 hours after expressing a widely-held opinion from my personal Twitter account – an opinion consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. And an opinion that is supposed to be protected by Canada’s constitution.”