Jeff Varner was fired from his real estate job this week, due to the public backlash generated when he outed fellow castaway Zeke Smith on last Wednesday's Survivor: Game Changers. Now, his former employer is speaking out about the decision to let him go.
"The Allen Tate Companies were built on core values of honesty, integrity and respect," Allen Tate Real Estate CEO Pat Riley said in a statement to ET on Sunday. "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."
During a contentious tribal council at the end of lastweek's episode of Survivor, Varner -- who had previously admitted that he had a feeling he was going to be sent home -- made a last-ditch effort to save himself by revealing Smith was transgender.
The gambit backfired immediately, and led to the tribal council reacting in outrage and disgust at Varner's actions, and they voted unanimously to send him home. That outrage continued on social media after the episode aired, and the massive negative feedback led to Varner suffering real-world consequences.
ET sat down with Varner following his termination, and the real estate agent said he was fired in "what I felt was an ugly, knee-jerk reaction kind of way," claiming that he warned his bosses that negative headlines might be coming when the episode aired, but the warning wasn't given to "the people who needed to hear it."
Riley denied Varner's claims in his statement, saying, "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. We make all decisions such as this one with careful consideration of our clients, employees and our agents."
Varner told ET that he "wasn't even given the chance to explain or right the wrong" to his employers, adding that he's been in therapy for the last 10 months to deal with the "traumatic" situation.
"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."
For more on the fallout surrounding Varner's controversial actions on Survivor, check out the video below.
Reporting by Brendon Geoffrion.