The Seattle Times reports that, several years ago, three women accused three high-ranking Mariners executives of inappropriate workplace conduct. The complaints came in the 2009-10 period against current Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather, then-team President Chuck Armstrong and then-Executive Vice President Bob Aylward.
The allegations, which were investigated at the time and which were resolved with settlements in excess of a half million dollars, included Mather repeatedly rubbing an executive assistant’s back and making suggestive comments that made her feel uncomfortable. Another claimed that he would make inappropriate jokes and comments about female colleagues in her presence. Aylward had pornography pop up on his computer screen when he asked a female assistant to help him when the system froze up. The third said that she was asked to deliver wine to Armstrong in his suite, at which point they kissed, saying she felt pressured by the then-team President to do so.
The Times reports that the claims triggered internal reviews and staff-wide sexual-harassment seminars, but that eventually the three women would leave their jobs. Armstrong eventually retired with Mather taking his place at the top of the organization. Aylward moved to the Mariners’ regional sports network, Root, where he serves as chairman.
At present Mariners employees, including women, say there is no evidence of the kind of behavior described in the story in the workplace. The team and Mather each issued statements saying that they are proud of the organization’s workplace environment and the role of women within it. Of course, there’s no telling how many women, separate and apart from those who made complaints and/or received settlements, left the team’s employment or failed to advance there when past conditions and attitude toward women did hold forth. A currently enlightened workplace is a good thing, but it does not erase the damage done in the past.
As ESPN’s Keith Law tweeted in response to this story, the Mariners are almost certainly not alone in having these sorts of skeleton’s in the team’s closet. Indeed . . .
As Law used to work for a major league franchise, it’s safe to assume he knows of what he speaks.