(Reuters) - A former New York Mets ticket sales executive sued the baseball club for discrimination on Wednesday, alleging in a federal lawsuit she was “frequently humiliated” and later fired by the team owner’s son because she was pregnant while unmarried.
Leigh Castergine is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, in Brooklyn, saying she was discriminated against by Jeffrey Wilpon, also the team’s chief operating officer.
“He frequently humiliated Castergine in front of others by, among other things, pretending to see if she had an engagement ring on her finger and openly stating in a meeting of the team’s all male senior executives that he is ‘morally opposed’ to Castergine ‘having this baby without being married,’” the complaint said.
She was fired in late August, 2014, after she complained to the team’s human resources department, according to the lawsuit, which also names Sterling Mets Front Office LLC.
“Wilpon fired Castergine based on his discriminatory views,” it says.
The Mets did not respond to requests for comment.
ESPN quoted the team as saying in a statement: “We have received and reviewed the complaint. The claims are without merit. Our organization maintains strong policies against any and all forms of discrimination.”
Castergine graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and worked for other sports teams including the Philadelphia Flyers and Orlando Magic. By 2010, she had an expertise in data analytics and pricing strategy.
The club, which hired her in December 2010, has rewarded her with two $50,000 raises, six-figure bonuses, and a promotion to senior vice president, the lawsuit said.
Shortly before he fired her, and after the birth of her child, Wilpon said “something changed” with Castergine and that she was no longer “as aggressive as she once had been,” according to the lawsuit.
Wilpon also is alleged in the lawsuit to have told Castergine that she should tell her boyfriend she would make more money and get a bigger bonus if she had a wedding ring.
“I am as morally opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to Leigh having this baby without being married,” Wilpon is alleged to have said in a February meeting with male senior executives that Castergine attended, according to the lawsuit.
Editing by Robert Birsel