MLB, in a memo, reprimanded the clubs for “unacceptable” workplace facilities for female employees

In a letter to the teams last week, Major League Baseball said many of the club’s stadiums “fall embarrassingly below the high standards” needed for women who are part of the game’s traveling groups to do their jobs, creating an “unaffordable work environment” and that organizations should It will soon reconfigure its facilities to fix what the league deemed “unacceptable,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by ESPN Thursday.

The letter, sent May 20 by MLB Vice President of Field Operations Michael Hill to general managers, assistant general managers and some stadium operations personnel, highlighted the issues of a wide range of women — including coaches, coaches, analysts, translators, mental health professionals, massage therapists, Player development staff and others – faced due to substandard facilities. MLB regulations, set out in a March 16, 2021 memorandum, require that home runs and road teams have clean locker room space close to the home clubhouse, that is private and includes a restroom and shower.

“During the first six weeks of the season, it became apparent that a number of clubs were not complying with these requirements, particularly with regard to hosting women on visiting teams,” the memo said.

The memo reiterated the sentiments of several women affected by subpar facilities who spoke with ESPN on the condition that they not be named. Women said they often have to walk to other areas of the pitch to go to the bathroom, and spend a disproportionate amount of time planning trips to other areas of the pitch, impeding their ability to reach players and staff. One woman said her colleague’s response when someone asked her what was the hardest part of her job: “finding the bathroom.”

Beyond the logistical issues of toilets and workplaces, the women said, are issues of belonging. Traveling female employees are often placed in auxiliary media areas, rooms designed to host visiting families or other spaces away from the main locker room—places completely separate from the clubhouse’s close quarters where teams congregate. Many of the women said the long-term goal was to start a conversation about the use of club space and the possibility of reimagining it to help mitigate such issues.

While some of the women in the game are silently reporting unfairness, sources said, others have registered concerns with the league about facilities at multiple stadiums, prompting MLB to issue the memo. Somewhere between twelve and twenty women are believed to regularly travel and use the stadium’s facilities, although not all thirty teams have women, according to sources.

“It is unacceptable that women traveling as part of the visiting team are not given accommodations that will allow them to perform their jobs at the same level as their male colleagues and counterparts,” the league’s memo said. “The facilities of many women’s clubs fall embarrassingly below the high standards befitting a traveling group member of one of the major league organisations. It also creates an untenable work environment for women, some of whom are now choosing not to travel to certain cities with their club on the road. Clubs that Failing to provide adequate workplaces for individuals regardless of gender violates MLB regulations, directly denies women equal access to participate in our great game, and discourages eligible women from participating in baseball roles traditionally occupied by men.”

Although Alyssa Nakken, assistant hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants, is the only woman on a major league coaching staff, others travel in various roles with teams and need access to facilities. More than half a dozen women hold full-time coaching positions with minor league teams, including Rachel Palković, manager of the New York Yankees’ Tampa Single-A affiliate. Minor league teams, whose stadiums pale in size and scope compared to major league teams, are expected to accommodate women similarly, according to a league official. Sources said that in a number of minor league stadiums, all women participating in games are assigned one room, which can lead to situations where staff from both teams and the referee have to share the space.

Traveling women told ESPN that many major league stadiums do not provide facilities that lead to their jobs. In one case, the bathroom next to the bunker did not include a lock, a source said, prompting a female employee to open the door several times while she was using the room.

The gold standard, they said, is at the Texas Rangers’ home stadium, Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020 and plans for spaces in the main clubhouse that are large enough for several women and include a private bathroom and shower.

MLB has not specified any potential repercussions for teams who do not adhere to the regulations, but in the memo, it required teams to submit detailed floor plans, descriptions, and photos of potential changes by June 3.

“We understand that space constraints in some stadiums may limit clubs’ ability to adhere to these requirements,” the memo said. “However, we expect all clubs to make the necessary sacrifices in order to provide satisfactory facilities to all female employees.”

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