Los Angeles Dodgers Accused of Discrimination Against Disabled Military Veteran Employee

Nick Francona (31) alleges that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball discriminated against him because of his military veteran status. Nick Francona, son of Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, was working as an assistant director of player development when he contacted Home Base for a consultation. Home Base is a Boston-based organization that seeks to help veterans treat “invisible wounds of war” like post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, etc. In Afghanistan, Francona experienced concussions resulting from multiple explosions. Though seeking help for “invisible wounds” is still highly stigmatized (especially for veterans currently in the workplace) Francona decided to seek treatment fearing that he might be experiencing aftereffects. 

The problem? His treatments would be in Boston, while his job was in Arizona. 

Upon hearing about Francona’s treatments, Gabe Kapler (Dodgers director of player development and Francona’s direct supervisor) sent an encouraging email to Andrew Friedman (Dodgers president of baseball operations), saying that they should support Francona get to a “healthier place physically, mentally and emotionally.” Though Kapler suggested that Francona take a leave of absence while he sought treatment, he and Friedman remained flexible with Francona’s state of employment.

After two months, however, Kapler allegedly engaged in discriminatory practices including:

1. Reassigning Francona to a different position in the research and development department. Though the other position was paid the same, Francona felt that it was a demotion. 

2. The Dodgers then told him he could resign or he would have his contract terminated. Francona chose the termination, an action that allowed him to still receive a year’s salary.

According to Dodgers employees, Francona’s reassignment was suggested because of an existing personality conflict between him and Kapler, not because of his veteran status. Both the Dodgers and MLB deny any wrongdoing or discrimination saying that they have “the utmost admiration and respect for all of the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces, and we are very proud of the veterans whom we employ.” In addition, the MLB claims to have contributed “tens of millions of dollars to groups assisting veterans with their transition.” 

Do you believe that Francona was discriminated against because of his veteran status? Or something else was going on here? 

*image by Tyler Barnes

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