Jeff Varner’s Former Employer Defends Decision to Fire Him

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First impressions count! Jeff Varner’s former employer has spoken out about their decision to fire the Survivor star, revealing he’d been with them just 17 days before they let him go.

Varner caused huge controversy after outing fellow contestant Zeke Smith as transgender on Survivor: Game Changers, and once the episode aired on Wednesday, April 12, he lost his real estate job.

But while Varner branded the company’s decision “an ugly, knee jerk reaction,” the CEO of Allen Tate Real Estate company, Pat Riley, told Entertainment Tonight it was done with “careful consideration.”

“The Allen Tate Companies were built on core values of honesty, integrity and respect,” he said in a statement on Sunday, April 16. “Those fundamental beliefs led us to end our relationship with Mr. Varner, a real estate agent who had become affiliated with our firm just 17 days earlier.”

Although Varner insisted he’d warned his bosses there would likely be backlash after the episode, they claim they were never informed.

“To be clear, at no time before the airing of the Survivor episode on Wednesday evening was our management aware of his actions on that episode,” the statement continued. “We make all decisions such as this one with careful consideration of our clients, employees and our agents.”

Varner argued that he “wasn’t even given the chance to explain or right the wrong,” and found out he had been terminated from his job via email while doing press for Survivor on Thursday.

Fortunately for Varner, he says the clients he garnered during his 17 days at the company want to follow him to his next venture.

“It took hours after my press junket to get anyone with the company on the phone to tell me personally, and even longer to calm my clients, all of whom, by the way, are coming with me to my new firm,” he told ET.

“In the real estate world, buyers and sellers want to know they’re signing up with a company that won’t dump them or turn their backs on them in time of trial,” he added. “So I’m talking to several firms now that I know will care about and believe in their employees. I have had several reach out [and] I’m confident I’ll find a better home.”

In an interview with Us Weekly on Thursday, Varner, who is gay, revealed that he has been in therapy since the incident, which was filmed nearly one year ago. “I firmly believe outing is assault,” he said. “It robs them of their safety and their protection. I’m devastated I’m the one who did that.”

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