Former Eagles spokeswoman Bonnie Grant filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday alleging the team discriminated against her because of her gender and health, and then fired her when she complained about the discrimination.
Grant, a breast-cancer survivor, said in her complaint that the team also reneged on a commitment to pay her severance if she was terminated, reports the People Paper's Michael Hinkelman.
Grant, a Cardinal Dougherty High grad, began working for the Eagles as director of communications in October 2005, after working for nine years in the Office of the City Representative. Her complaint says the Eagles learned about her breast cancer through her public work raising awareness about the disease. The Eagles subsequently began to "issue petty and unsupported discipline" against Grant, the lawsuit said, and directed her not to discuss her cancer history.
According to the lawsuit, Grant was terminated without warning and without cause on Oct. 12, 2007. Then, the lawsuit charges, in an effort "to conceal her unlawful termination," the Eagles created an e-mail that "misappropriated" Grant's identity and was sent to anyone who wrote to her Eagles e-mail.
We reported in October 2007 that Grant was fired after taking the fall for the Eagles' front-office outrage over a Daily News front-page story by Chris Brennan about measures to cut down on tailgating during home games. We also wrote that Grant was upset that the Eagles had set up an e-mail auto-reply that purported to be written by her and referenced that she had left the team to "pursue other interests."
Her suit asserts she suffered loss of earnings, emotional and psychological distress, and loss of future earnings. She seeks back pay and unspecified damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
"We do not comment on pending litigation but we completely reject the claims," Pamela Browner Crawley, the Eagles' senior vice president of public affairs, told us last night. "There is no basis for the claims and we intend to fight them vigorously. "In February 2008, Bonnie Grant made claim to the EEOC, the governmental agency responsible for these issues. There was no investigation with regard to her claim. The Philadelphia Eagles were not even asked to respond to the charge," Crawley said last night. She also said that the team has "dedicated significant resources" over the past five years to fund the Tackling Breast Cancer campaign. The campaign is "geared to create sensitivity toward and compassion for women who are going through this experience. Our program, in partnership with Jefferson Hospital, is being replicated throughout the National Football League," she said.
Grant's attorney Frank Conley said today he has "strong support for all of the claims in the lawsuit, and we intend to let the legal process run its course. Concerning Ms. Crawley's statements to the Daily News, it’s unfortunate that she chose to discuss events which took place prior to her arrival at the Eagles, and about which she does not know."