Former Tigers VP sues over firing, alleges race, sex, age discrimination

This is at least the second lawsuit filed in the last year by a former employee against the Tigers.

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
The Olde English 'D' is painted on the field behind home plate at Comerica Park.

Detroit − A former Detroit Tigers vice president is suing the ballclub and parent company, Olympia Entertainment, alleging racial, sex and age discrimination over her 2020 firing.

Elaine Hendrix worked for the Tigers for nearly 21 years, starting in 1999 as one of the point people when the team was transitioning to Comerica Park from Tiger Stadium. She was the team's vice president of public affairs and strategic planning, and was credited with the success of the team's winter caravan and community outreach efforts.

She was fired Sept. 20, 2020, after receiving the first negative job-performance review of her time with the Tigers, according to the lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Detroit.

The lawsuit states Hendrix was offered one week of severance pay for each of her years with the Tigers, coming out to 21 weeks. The lawsuit alleges it "paled in comparison to those offered to similarly situated white men." The lawsuit also states she was asked to sign paperwork confirming she would not sue the Tigers.

The Tigers and Olympia Entertainment didn't immediately return a message from The News seeking comment. The lawyer for Hendrix, Jehan Crump-Gibson of Southfield-based Great Lakes Legal Group, also didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

According to the lawsuit, in July 19, Olympia hired a new chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sports and entertainment, to whom Hendrix was to report. In the spring of 2020, according to the lawsuit, Hendrix received her first negative job-performance review, for her work in 2019. During 2019, the lawsuit alleges, Hendrix had work duties removed by her new boss.

In September 2020, amid the pandemic, Hendrix was told the company was reducing its workforce, according to the lawsuit. Also according to the lawsuit, Hendrix was the company's only vice president who was let go.

Hendrix, a Detroit native, is Black, and was 64 when she was fired. She is seeking unspecified monetary damages, compensatory, exemplary and punitive, as well as attorney fees.

During her time with the Tigers, Hendrix also oversaw the Tigers' memorabilia and ticket-donation programs, which are geared toward senior citizens, youth, people of color and non-profits. According to her attorneys' filing, in her tenure, the Tigers "became a baston of community outreach and engagement."

This is at least the second lawsuit filed in the past year by a former employee against the Tigers. In November, the Tigers' former visiting clubhouse manager, John Nelson, sued the team, alleging racial and age discrimination.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984