Current, Former Mets Staff Detail ‘Toxic Workplace’ in Report on Harassment, Sexism

Adam WellsApril 16, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: A New York Mets batting helmet in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

New allegations about the New York Mets' workplace have been made in a report from Katie Strang and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic. 

A former Mets employee told Strang and Ghiroli in an article published Friday they "were all pawns in this toxic workplace."

Another former employee, who used to work for the Mets but has since left Major League Baseball altogether, said, "Sometimes [thinking about it] gives me a bit of PTSD.”

Per the report, three employees who used to work or currently work for the Mets and former owner Fred Wilpon were accused of sexist behavior or sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Wilpon was said in a sexual harassment lawsuit to have made sexist remarks to former vice president of ticket sales Leigh Castergine, including that she would "make more money and get a bigger bonus" if she was married.

The other employees at the center of the accusations are former Mets executive producer for content and marketing Joe DeVito, former hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis and Mets chief marketing, content and communications officer David Newman. 

The Mets fired Ellis in February after Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal reported that three women accused him of sexual harassment during the 2018 season. 

Holly Lindvall, who holds a leadership position in the team's human resources department, was also accused of "protecting ownership and executives and not the office as a whole" by one former employee.

At least two women made allegations to Mets team lawyers of what they believed to be sexual harassment by DeVito.

“I’ve barely hit on you," DeVito said in a text message to one Mets employee that was shared with Strang and Ghiroli. "So that counts for something.”

Two women who worked with the Mets or were around the organization said that DeVito gave one of them "an unsolicited back rub in front of others" last spring and invited another female employee to a closed-door meeting in 2019 "where he encouraged her to drink scotch with him during a workday."

 A total of seven male and female Mets employees told Strang and Ghiroli that Newman "made inappropriate comments to female employees during his first stint with the team from 2005-2018."

The Mets rehired Newman in November to work under team president Sandy Alderson. 

Strang and Ghiroli noted Newman would "frequently" make inappropriate remarks about the appearance of female employees, including telling one woman "not to wear bright lipstick so as not to bring too much attention to her mouth."

One woman, who was described by a former co-worker as "maybe the smartest person on the team," left baseball altogether because Newman "could not get beyond the fact she would not do her hair and it stopped him from thinking that she could move forward."

Newman was also accused of saying that Castergine "hasn’t been the same since she had children" during a meeting in a gender discrimination lawsuit she filed against the team in 2014.

The report notes Castergine said Lindvall "urged her to quit, on multiple occasions" after Castergine raised multiple complaints about Wilpon.

Alderson, who returned to the Mets in November after spending two seasons in the Oakland Athletics front office, gave this comment to Strang and Ghiroli about the allegations made against the Mets and the organization's handling of it:

“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. 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.”

The report from Strang and Ghiroli comes three months after the Mets fired Jared Porter as general manager one month after they hired him.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes, Porter acknowledged sending explicit images to a female reporter via text message when he worked for the Chicago Cubs. 

Ghiroli and Strang reported in February that five women accused former Mets manager Mickey Callaway of lewd behavior. The Los Angeles Angels hired him as their pitching coach in October 2019, but he is currently suspended pending an investigation into the accusations. 

Mets owner Steve Cohen announced in March he has hired an independent law firm to investigate the organization's workplace.

In response to Strang and Ghiroli's report, Cohen noted, per MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, that he has retained a law firm and "will listen carefully and then take any steps I believe are appropriate."