Sports media company Barstool Sports has always leaned on its defiant and polarizing nature to grow its brand, led by the example of its provocative founder Dave Portnoy, and its latest stunt is proving that its rambunctious style works on its audience. But at what cost? Experts say Barstool Sports could still be in legal trouble and, at the very least, provoke anger from the very individuals it covers, even if it doesn’t do harm to its fanbase.
In a series of tweets to his nearly 1 million followers on Tuesday, Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, threatened to fire any of his employees who seek to unionize.
The dispute began when Portnoy resurfaced a blog post he wrote in 2015 that shared his anti-union stance in response to the news that the editorial staff at sports-culture site The Ringer would unionize. Live Science staff writer Rafi Letzter and lawyer Matt Weir sent out tweets of support for Barstool employees who would like to unionize, and Portnoy shot back with threats:
“If you work for @barstoolsports and DM this man I will fire you on the spot,” reads Portnoy’s tweet referencing Letzter’s post. He made a similar threat with Weir’s tweet. If taken at face value, they’re a clear violation of U.S. labor law. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 states that employers cannot “dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization.”