Ex-Mariners employee’s accusation of racism sparks investigation by MLB
The Seattle Mariners have fired back against Dr. Lorena Martin, who filed a lawsuit against her former employer in King County Superior Court last week and is seeking wrongful termination from her front-office position after accusing the club of racism and gender discrimination.
The Mariners’ team lawyers said trainers and others who reported to Martin complained to general manager Jerry Dipoto as early as March that Martin created a hostile work environment and had threatened to fire people if they spoke to Dipoto about “player medical or other issues.” They claim to have reports of Martin asking trainers for prescription medication to give to a player who had no prescription.
It also alleges Martin ignored doctor’s orders for treating injured players and instead implemented her own medical treatments, “even though she was unqualified to diagnose or prescribe treatment.” The club stated that Martin misrepresented herself as a medical doctor to other MLB staff, and that trainers were concerned about Martin engaging in medical and therapeutic practices without a license.
This and more was in a document made public Friday, and was first reported by The Seattle Times, after it was initially crafted by the Mariners weeks ago in an attempt to privately settle in arbitration the remaining two years and $600,000 owed to Martin of the three-year contract she signed last year.
The Mariners’ eight-page letter was attached to a motion filed by Martin’s lawyer, Robin Phillips, in King County Superior Court asking that the case be heard in open court because of Martin’s discrimination allegations. The Mariners have denied all of Martin’s accusations, most of which were directed at Dipoto, manager Scott Servais and director of player development Andy McKay, but this letter offers the first look at what the Mariners’ lawsuit defense might look like.
A hearing appears to be scheduled for Jan. 8, according to court documents. Martin had not responded to multiple attempts to get her comments.
MLB had announced it began its own investigation into Martin’s allegations, but those findings haven’t yet been released.
The Mariners cited an independent investigation into Martin that involved about 20 people “who were in position to know” about some of the accusations Martin made against the club on social media and to The News Tribune last month, including that Dipoto in one January meeting called her a “cocky Latina,” that McKay called her stupid and Servais forbade Martin from meetings with players in spring training because she is a woman.
The team’s letter states that it began its investigation after “overwhelming and accumulating complaints.”
The Mariners are not only seeking to fire Martin with cause, which would void the remaining terms of her contract, but they also requested damages because of her posts to social media on Nov. 12, including one that said she witnessed the Mariners’ poor leadership and racism first hand, calling Latino players “LAZY, DUMB, and STUPID, especially the DOMINICANS,” she posted.
In her lawsuit, Martin alleged she brought her concerns to chairman John Stanton, president and CEO Kevin Mather and others as early as March. She also alleged Dipoto in August blamed Latino players for ruining the Mariners’ clubhouse culture and for the team’s fall out of the American League playoff picture.
“Statements made by (Martin) to the press and on social media are false and were made deliberately by Martin in order to harm the (Mariners),” the Mariners’ letter states. “Such statements have, in fact, caused harm, entitling the Mariners to an award of damages.”
Martin was placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 10 because, the Mariners’ say, they received information corroborating the complaints about her and after “uncovering evidence of her failure to competently perform her job duties and indications of other misconduct.”
They kept her on paid leave until Nov. 15, three days after Martin’s public accusations against the club. The Mariners cited an Oct. 16 agreement between Martin and the club to not make any public statements about her employment status until completion of mediation. They allege she declined to participate in the internal investigation for more than a month and “refused to even meet with the independent investigators.”
“Martin’s allegations of discrimination are not true,” the Mariners’ letter states. “No indication, much less evidence, of such was identified during the course of the independent investigation which involved personal interviews of approximately 20 individuals who were in position to know.”