Mets re-hired ‘creepy’ exec despite numerous complaints from female employees
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The Mets’ workplace environment is under further scrutiny with a new report published on Friday by The Athletic, which details additional accounts of inappropriate behavior that was ignored by team management and the HR department.
The alleged behavior prompted new majority owner Steve Cohen to hire a law firm back in March to conduct an external review that will focus on “sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination issues,” which many current and former employees told The Athletic is “long overdue.”
Seven employees, both male and female, told the website that the Mets’ chief marketing, content and communication officer David Newman made inappropriate comments to female employees during his first stint with the team from 2005 to 2018 – including an instance that resulted in a woman suing the team for discrimination based on a her pregnancy.
When word spread there were plans to bring Newman back to the organization in November 2020, two female employees warned Mets president Sandy Alderson about his past behavior. Alderson rehired him anyway.
“I said, ‘How can you take David Newman back? He’s a creep,’” one of the women told The Athletic of her interaction with Alderson.
Past and current employees told The Athletic that Newman routinely made inappropriate remarks about women’s appearances. He’s also accused of being insensitive toward pregnant women within the organization and citing one woman’s decision to have children as the reason for changes in her performance. This included an incident in which a woman told him an assignment would be difficult to complete because of her need for a space to pump breast milk and he said to “figure it out.”
“Virtually everything you have here is untrue,” Newman told The Athletic. “As part of a routine annual performance review I actually spoke highly of the employee and the employee’s capabilities, but I did note that the person was not performing to the usual high standards that the employee previously showed, and the high standards of the group.”
Joe DeVito, the Mets’ executive producer for content and marketing who quit in March, had at least two women who worked with him speak to team lawyers about incidents they described as sexual harassment. The Athletic reports that he gave one woman an unsolicited back rub in front of others and invited another female employee to drink scotch with him during a workday.
Ryan Ellis, a former hitting performance coordinator, had three women previously complain that he made aggressive sexual comments to them and sent persistent suggestive text messages.
All of these complaints were brought to the attention of the HR department’s top official, Holly Lindvall, and nothing was done about it.
The Athletic reports that Alderson contacted one of the women who he was told was mistreated by Newman. That woman says she corroborated what her co-worker told Alderson about Newman and told him that Newman made life “miserable” for those around him.
Alderson told her that Newman’s behavior was “unacceptable,” per The Athletic, but that he believed in second chances and said he’d tell Newman to “knock it off” before announcing his hiring later that day.
“I guess how I’d respond to that is well, if there was disappointment on Day 1, I’m hoping that (there is) optimism on Day 100-whatever-it-is based on how we handle other situations going forward,” Alderson told The Athletic.
Following ESPN’s report that former general manager Jared Porter sent explicit photographs to a female reporter while with the Cubs (fired in January) and The Athletic’s report that former manager Mickey Callaway was accused of sending and soliciting lewd photos and making inappropriate comments toward female media members (suspended by Angels will under investigation by MLB), the Mets’ leadership of Alderson and Cohen have come under a microscope.
“Several weeks ago, I retained WilmerHale to conduct a review of the organization’s culture,” Cohen said in a statement to The Athletic. “They will provide me with a report of what they find. I will listen carefully and then take any steps I believe are appropriate based on the findings.”
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