James Fanelli of DNAinfo reports on a regulatory disclosure filing from the New York Yankees which reveals that they’ve had 16 worker discrimination/harassment cases filed against them in the past four years. One of them involved claim that the Yankees Chief Financial Officer told a female worker she was “childish” for complaining about being called a “whore face” and a “bitch” by male coworkers.
That suit, as well as others involving racial discrimination, have been settled, but their existence is still set forth in a disclosure required as part of the Yankees’ application with New York’s Economic Development Corporation to refinance $1 billion in tax-free bonds that paid for its new stadium.
According to the complaint in that suit, which is reproduced in Fanelli’s article, the employee was an executive assistant named Holly Kelley, who said that coworkers used abusive, harassing language toward her. When she lodged a complaint with her boss, the Yankees’ CFO Anthony Bruno, she alleges that Bruno blamed her for her treatment and did not take her complaint seriously. She likewise claims she was punished as a result of her complaint and was repeatedly denied the opportunity to take the matter up the ladder to Hal Steinbrenner, who Bruno said “didn’t care” about the incident or Kelley’s concerns. Eventually Kelley was fired. The suit was later settled and confidentiality agreements were put in place.
You’ll recall that the Mets recently had their own harassment suit, filed against Jeff Wilpon, which was settled last year, which suggests that the Yankees are not unique in this regard. Indeed, it would not be at all surprising to find stories like these in multiple front offices. Baseball teams are famous operations with international name recognition forming part of a $10 billion industry. Practically speaking, however, most clubs are small operations, many still family-run, with a lot of employees who have not worked outside of sports for much if any of their professional lives. They can be insular places. There is a vibe about a lot of them that is more like a local small business than a large sophisticated corporation.
Here’s hoping that the acts which led to all of these lawsuits have ceased to exist in the Yankees organization and that they learned from their mistakes.