Mets human resources dismissed employees' complaints in latest report of club's toxic culture
The toxic culture in the New York Mets organization went beyond former manager Mickey Callaway and short-lived general manager Jared Porter, according to a new report by The Athletic's Katie Strang and Brittany Ghiroli.
Mets employees reported instances of inappropriate comments, text messages unwanted and advances against three other men in the organization. But more than a dozen people, both male and female, told The Athletic when these issues were raised with human resources, one of the department's top officials appeared to prioritize making ownership happy.
Steve Cohen, who purchased the team from the Wilpons in October, announced last moth he hired law firm WilmerHale to review the Mets' "workplace culture … with a focus on sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination issues."
Mets: Reports of toxic culture grow
The Athletic reported in February about Callaway's lewd behavior toward women and in March that his actions were widely known within the Mets organization. He reportedly sent lewd photos and made inappropriate comments toward media members.
Comments Joe DeVito, executive producer for content and marketing, texted to women included one confirming as much: “At least I am not as creepy as Mickey. #goals” Employees said DeVito gave one woman an unsolicited back run in a meeting and sent women suggestive text messages.
David Newman, the team's chief marketing, content and communications officer, criticized women's looks and became passive-aggressive toward a pregnant employee. He reportedly made inappropriate comments during his first tenure from 2005-18 and was asked to return in November 2020, eliciting warnings of bad behavior from employees to Mets president Sandy Alderson.
The Athletic previously reported that major league hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis had made aggressive sexual comments and texts to women. They reported it to human resources two years prior, but he was only fired in February after the public report.
Employees: HR was no help in reporting harassment
Former employees told The Athletic the HR department, led by Holly Lindvall, was no help. They said she was feared and they worried reporting anything to her would risk their position in the organization.
“It was clear that her interest was protecting ownership and executives and not the office as a whole," a former employee told The Athletic. "You could not go to HR to feel protected, comfortable, anything.”
Lindvall, 45, can provide input on employees' promotions and raises. Employees said it was "widely understood" if there was a problem, it was best to try and fix it oneself. The Athletic reported that Lindvall was aware of at least some of the issues raised by employees. She said in an email to The Athletic the department investigated all complaints and took "swift action" to remedy when an investigation confirmed it to have happened.
Alderson took another route in an interview with The Athletic.
“Let me try to make a point as strongly as I can, OK? Not every instance involving men, women in the workplace is a capital offense, OK? Every time something happens, it doesn’t mean somebody has to be fired,” Alderson said. “There are a lot of intermediate steps that can be taken and we’ve done that in a variety of different cases. And have included capital punishment as a consequence in some cases, but not every case rises to the level of execution. And that’s what honestly I think is happening with these articles (in The Athletic). People are getting executed, including women, by the way, for reasons that are unjustifiable.”
Cohen will listen to law firm's review
Cohen hired WilmerHale to review the culture at his Connecticut-based hedge fund Point72 in the spring of 2018 after a lawsuit alleging gender and pay discrimination, per The Athletic.
The result was the head of HR retiring, the president stepping down and reportedly expanded parental leave. Mets employees told The Athletic a review was needed to create an "open, communicating environment."
Cohen gave a statement to The Athletic on the review:
“Several weeks ago, I retained WilmerHale to conduct a review of the organization’s culture. 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.”
As did Alderson:
“What I’d hope is the audit reflects our commitment to a safe and productive workplace for men, for women, for minorities, for everyone who is part of the Mets organization. I think the fact the Mets have taken this step … is a pretty serious indication of what we’re trying to do and to some extent, the progress that we’ve made.”
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