Last year Leigh Castergine, the Mets’ former executive vice president for marketing and ticket sales, sued the team and Jeff Wilpon alleging that Wilpon criticized her in front of team employees for having a baby out of wedlock. She additionally claimed that Wilpon told her that, “when she gets a ring, she will make more money and get a bigger bonus.” After she had the baby he allegedly criticized her for remaining unmarried and for not being as “aggressive” as she once was. When she complained to HR, she was fired, she claimed.
The allegations painted an ugly picture. And at the time I noted that they a) were legally serious; and (b) had at least some indicia of legitimacy based on how they were pleaded. Now we’ll never know what happened, however, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the case has settled. The terms are undisclosed. The following joint statement was released:
“The parties have decided to resolve this matter, which has brought more attention to the workplace environment for women in sports and will result in the organization being more attentive to the important issues raised by women in sports,” the parties said in a joint statement. “Additionally, we are both committed to the further development and encouragement of female executives in our industry. Both sides have agreed to have no further comments.”
At the risk of reading too much into things, I’d say there’s a bit of a spanking of the Mets in the statement, with language which seems pretty clearly aimed at giving the public impression that Castergine’s claims were not baseless. It also suggests that the language was insisted upon by Castergine from a position of relative strength. I say this because, usually, a settling defendant does not want any sort of verbiage suggesting even a hint of merit to the underlying claims in a public statement like that. Yet here they are.
But like I said, perhaps I read too much into such things.
In any event, I expect Major League Baseball to do nothing now. If they were even going to bother to before. Which is doubtful. Frank McCourt had the Wilpons’ financial difficulties and got hammered while they skated. Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner engaged in misbehavior which created hostile work environments for their employees and were disciplined, but don’t expect the same thing to happen to the Mets owners. They have a special relationship with Major League Baseball, it seems.
But they shouldn’t. This is what I wrote last fall about what MLB should do in response to the Castergine lawsuit. Even though the case has now settled the league can still act. But it won’t. Really, don’t hold your breath.