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New York Mets Hit With Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

The New York Mets had another in a series of bad years, and now it's been made even worse after being hit with a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed on September 10.

Leigh Castergine, a former Division 1 athlete, was the first woman to hold the position of Senior Vice President in the Mets' 52 year history. She was hired in late 2010 as a VP in its ticket sales and service department and excelled at her job. She built a full-time sales team, negotiated new state of the art ticketing facilities, and introduced dynamic pricing. She also introduced flexible partial season ticket plans and major pricing changes.

The Mets gave her a $50,000 raise in 2012 and another $50,000 raise in 2013, and then she was promoted to Senior Vice President. She also earned a $125,000 bonus in 2013 because the Mets generated over $84 million in ticket sales, despite a dismal season.

Things began to change after August 2013 when she learned she was pregnant. According to the complaint, Fred Wilpon (the team president) was not pleased because Castergine was unmarried. He constantly made comments to other team executives which indicated his displeasure at her marital status. Even though she suffered serious complications, Wilpon continued to harass her about her pregnancy, to the point where Castergine complained to her supervisor, who did nothing.

Castergine continued to work until three days before she gave birth on March 7 of this year. She returned to work on June 1. On August 20, Wilpon fired her, supposedly because she failed to meet her sales goals. He stated that "something changed" and that she was no longer "as aggressive as she once had been", according to the complaint. He offered her a severance package which allowed her to remain employed through the end of the season, providing she not pursue any legal claims for harassment or discrimination against Wilpon or the Mets.

Castergine was given three days to review and sign the agreement. She requested a one week extension, and was instead offered only 24 more hours. She then decided to hire counsel, who then sent an email asserting discrimination and retaliation claims. Three minutes after receiving the email, the Mets fired her.

The lawsuit alleges causes of action under the pregnancy discrimination and retaliation clauses of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the New York City Human Rights Law. Under the New York City Human Rights Law, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation or fire an employee because of an employee's pregnancy or related medical condition. It looks like the Mets will have another problem on their hands.

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