MLB investigating the Dodgers over alleged discrimination against a war veteran
Jeff Passan reports that Major League Baseball is investigating allegations that the Los Angeles Dodgers discriminated against Nick Francona, a former baseball operations employee and son of Indians manager Terry Francona, for seeking assistance from a veterans organization which helps with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other ailments. Francona is a combat veteran, having served with the Marines in Afghanistan.
Francona was the Dodgers assistant director of player development, reporting to Gabe Kapler. He claims he received exemplary employee evaluations in his first year on the job and, in December 2015, was offered a contract extension. Soon after that, at the prompting of his mother, he reached out to Home Base, a Boston-area organization dedicated to helping veterans dealing with PTSD and TBI. Francona says his reason for reaching out was due to concussions he suffered in combat. Home Base is partnered with the Boston Red Sox and is one of many veterans organizations which Major League Baseball helps support.
While Kapler expressed support, Francona says that, in practice, his seeking treatment led to discrimination. Specifically, he claims that Kapler insisted that Francona take a leave of absence, despite him not requesting one and despite Francona telling Kapler that such a thing would create a stigma and would actually be counterproductive to his treatment. Francona said Kapler insisted, however, and it led to increasing acrimony. Francona was eventually removed from his position and was offered a role at the same salary in a different department. Francona declined the job, believing it was a demotion. Soon after he was asked to resign or be fired. He was terminated in April of 2016.
Francona has not sued the Dodgers and has, instead, tried to resolve the matter internally, in negotiations with the Dodgers and, now, MLB’s Department of Investigations. Despite this, the Dodgers have offered him money to settle the dispute. As Passan notes, MLB’s investigation is proceeding and could take a week or two.
Updates as warranted.