Wednesday, October 20, 2021
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The Mets, who were rocked by a series of sexual harassment charges that resulted in the firings of two staff members this year, informed employees in a letter this week that the team would adopt new guidelines to address a workplace culture that some said fostered sexist and bullying behavior.

In the companywide letter, which was distributed to the news media, Steven Cohen, who purchased the team in the last off-season, outlined “changes we are going to make to ensure that our community and culture will always be safe, respectful and inclusive.”

Cohen also announced that David Cohen, a longtime legal counsel to Mets ownership who is not related to the owner, and Holly Lindvall, the team’s head of human resources — both of whom were hired by the previous ownership group — were on their way out. They will be replaced by Steven Cohen’s own legal and human resources executives, the owner said. He added that the two would remain in place during a transition period while he searched for their replacements.

In the letter to employees, Cohen said the legal firm WilmerHale had completed an investigation into the Mets’ culture. He said the firm spoke to 82 current and former employees, including 25 percent of the current full-time work force. He did not disclose any of the firm’s findings.

But the owner vowed to strengthen and streamline the process for employees to report violations and for those violations to be investigated and resolved in a timely fashion without retaliation against anyone making a complaint.

Cohen, who took control of the Mets last year after buying the team from Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon, hired the firm after three people connected to the club were accused of inappropriate behavior, including the former general manager Jared Porter, who was fired in January, only a month after being hired, for sending inappropriate photos to a female reporter.

Ryan Ellis, an organizational hitting coordinator, was fired in January, three years after he made what the team said were explicit and threatening overtures to three female employees. The Mets said that his actions were reported to their human resources department at the time and that Ellis was put on probation and assigned for counseling. The Mets fired him, they said, when new information about his actions came to light after the revelations surrounding Porter. The firing was not made public until February.

Mickey Callaway, the field manager who was fired in 2019 for being ineffective, was also said to have made several inappropriate advances toward women during his time with the Mets and two other clubs. An investigation into accusations against Callaway led to his firing by the Los Angeles Angels and his placement on baseball’s ineligible list.

Cohen vowed to expand the scope of the team’s antidiscrimination policy “to emphasize the overarching value of a safe and respectful workplace.” He said that under the new policy the club would “not tolerate conduct, like bullying, that is damaging to our workplace culture — even if that conduct falls short of violating the law.”

Cohen had previously been accused of bullying behavior in his role as the founder of Point72 Asset Management.

He said the team would also expand its policy regarding nonfraternization, dating and romantic relationships to clarify what is prohibited. That not only includes relationships or overtures within the club, but also with employees in baseball at large and with media members.

Sandy Alderson, the president of the Mets, acknowledged in January that he had not consulted with any women when he was in the process of vetting Porter. Cohen said he intended to promote “diversity, equity and inclusion” in leadership.

“Sandy and I are committed to implementing and building upon the recommendations shared by WilmerHale,” Cohen wrote.

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