MLB updates code of conduct in response to inappropriate actions

The MLB responds to sexual harassment and misconduct by creating resources and hotlines


Bry Richards, Staff Writer

On Jan. 18, New York Mets General Manager Jared Porter made headlines after ESPN reported that he had sent explicit text messages to a female reporter without her consent while working for the Chicago Cubs, one of which included a nude photo. In response to these reports, Porter admitted his wrongdoings and was fired by the Mets the following day.

Two weeks after this incident, The Athletic released a report that detailed five women in sports media accusing Los Angeles Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway of sexual misconduct. Allegations included reports of Callaway sending shirtless photos, requesting nude pictures and other additional advances. Despite Callaway denying any wrongdoing, the Angels immediately suspended him and began their own investigation into the incident.

Major League Baseball has updated its code of conduct in light of these investigations on harassment and discrimination. According to documents obtained by ESPN, the code of conduct was advanced by MLB chief people and culture officer, Michele Meyer-Shipp. In a statement, Shipp promised that “all MLB and Club personnel will be held accountable for inappropriate conduct, regardless of their seniority, rank, or stature.”

In an additional statement, MLB stated that it is “committed to ensuring that all individuals who work in and around the game are welcomed and treated equally, with dignity, respect, and professionalism. To accomplish this goal, MLB and its clubs will continue to strive to create environments in which people feel safe and accepted — and when they do not, they feel comfortable speaking up without fear of recrimination, retaliation, or exclusion.”

To further these ends, the MLB has developed an anonymous hotline entitled “Speak Up.” Reports filed via the hotline, which will be operated by an outside third party, will be investigated by the relevant team or commissioner’s office, depending on the severity of the allegation. Flyers are also to be posted on the walls of every major league clubhouse this season, visibly outlining the three steps for those with information about sexual misconduct which can be punished in the “form of a warning, a suspension, termination of employment, or any other measures available to a club or the commissioner.”

Confirmed by ESPN, the league continued its efforts by sending a memo to teams requiring anti-harassment and discrimination training to be completed before the end of March by the five most senior baseball-operations staff and the five most senior business staff. The MLB is also encouraging teams to adopt an annual training program in a similar format for non-players. Teams already hold seminars for sexual harassment and domestic violence every spring training.

Overall, this new code of conduct will emphasize inclusion, acceptance and equality. It defines harassment and discrimination, and encourages the league’s employers to report inappropriate behavior. Flyers are circulating, stressing the importance of speaking up and encouraging victims that their stories will be “kept confidential to the extent possible.” Further, it has been stipulated that any retaliation against complaints filed would be “a serious violation.” By taking these measures, the MLB is putting their foot down by working to prevent any further harassment toward women in a male-dominated workplace.