Bill Simmons

Gary Trock and Liz Walters of The Blast (a celebrity and entertainment news site run by former TMZ news director Mike Walters) broke the news Friday that The Ringer founder and CEO Bill Simmons has been granted a temporary restraining order against an ex-employee of the site. The order is filed on behalf of Simmons himself, but also extends to his wife and children and to the rest of the staff of The Ringer (even including Philadelphia 76ers player/Ringer podcast host J.J. Redick), and it requires Joseph Fuentes (who The Blast’s piece notes is a former digital audio director at the site) to stay 100 yards away from Simmons, The Ringer’s office, and The Ringer’s other employees until a July 2 hearing.

Here’s the order (PDF):

Bill Simmons’ restraining order against Joseph Fuentes.

And an attachment with printouts of some curious and potentially threatening tweets from Fuentes, plus details of his behavior when he tried to visit the company offices and details of his conversations with employees:

Fuentes tweets and memos

The court filing notes that Simmons’ request is partly granted and partly denied until the hearing, with the partial denial only being because “100 yard stay away distance is sufficient.” (The request initially asked for 1000 yards.) The order requires Fuentes to not only stay away from Simmons, his family, and The Ringer’s offices, but also to not make threats against anyone covered (which includes the Ringer’s entire staff) and to not contact them in any way. And it includes that there is no fee to serve this because it is “based on a credible threat of violence or stalking.”

As detailed in the filing, this began when Fuentes was terminated from the company on April 25, based on a number of detailed incidents of “unsatisfactory work performance” (including not assigning a producer to record a Simmons podcast with Mike Francesa, mismanaging another producer’s schedule, not checking if a promotional Simmons Amazon Music playlist actually made it to Amazon Music), “executing without proper authority” (sending unnecessary equipment to Simmons and others, interfering with job candidate interviews and keeping candidates around longer than needed, setting up interviews Simmons didn’t want), and “inappropriate behaviors” (telling the HR director to “watch her back,” asking other employees what they’d do if they needed to hide something from the police, trying to arrange 1-on-1 meetings with one employee).

But the inciting incident for the restraining order filing came in June, where several employees expressed concern about Fuentes calling and texting them, where he visited The Ringer’s lot despite being told not to, and where he tried to set up business with another company on the lot only to have his credit card declined. There’s a memo of his behavior in the second file above, as well as plenty of his tweets and some odd conversations he had with employees.

Here are some of those tweets:

Yeah, so this is all extremely strange, and it’s understandable why Simmons and the company would take out this restraining order. We’ll see if any further details on it emerge.

[The Blast]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.