Ryan Kennedy had an interesting article "Ice-Girl Dilemma" at the THN.com blog on 10/12/07. It was a surprise to me to learn that 17 NHL teams actually have so-called cheerleading groups. I guess too many women no longer think it demeaning to be hired simply for the purpose of having lecherous creeps oggle them as a prelude to exploiting them. We know this is true because these women skate around in skin-tight, midriff-baring outfits with necklines that plunge so much it is a wonder they don't lose their lungs. (Wonder if these same outfits will be on display at the outdoor hockey event on January 1 in Buffalo?)
Fortuntately, by the end of his article, Kennedy reaches the correct conclusion that these groups are probably more trouble than they are worth. However, he didn't go far enough. On a risk/benefit analysis, I'm surprised so many clubs would expose themselves to so much possible legal liability. Witness, the already well-documented and ongoing Prince v.Madison Square Garden, et al case.
The abject arrogance of James Dolan and the MSG management has already been proven to the satisfaction of a jury in the recent judgment against him involving a female executive in the Knicks organization. Public focus on this case has been on Isiah Thomas. But it is James Dolan, owner of both the Knicks AND the Rangers, who was found personally liable for the hostile work environment that fostered the sexual harassment. And that liability, in the form of punitive damages, will not be paid by an insurance company but, if collectible, by Dolan himself.
As a result, it follows that the Rangers form of corporate management is similar to that of the Knicks. On the plus side legally, Prince's attorney was just given a gift and won't have to do much to prove that the pattern of hostile work environment is entrenched within the MSG system. In other words, the price just went up considerably for a settlement, if MSG and Dolan would even humble themselves to go that route. They haven't done so previously. Ms. Prince was fired in 2004, which gives one an idea of what a plaintiff must go through when challenging a multi-million dollar corporation. Originally, the EEOC felt that Prince's allegations were probably true and recommended conciliation and that MSG settle and pay Ms. Prince $800,000. They declined to do so.
But let's not mince words. Who are the "et al" defendants? This information can be found in public documents and the Rangers employees named are Jason Vogel (deputy director of public relations) and Ryan Halkett (director of game-day presentations). Great public relations here. Prince's 16 allegations, which all survived motion for dismissal, include the following:
*The Garden and Halkett required Prince and other "Skaters" be "sexually alluring"
*Halkett informed Prince that a fellow "Skater's" breasts were too small and that the individual needed to "stuff her bra"
*Halkett made "unwelcome sexual remarks" to a "Skater" about her sex life and his
*Vogel made "unwelcome sexual advances and sexually assaulted" Prince and made such advances on other Garden employees
*Garden managers and supervisors (including Vogel and Halkett) accompanied underage "Skaters" to bars and restaurants and purchased alcohol for them
In the latest salvo, MSG filed an answer and is claiming that Prince is mentally unbalanced, supporting this claim with affidavits from other members of the skating squad. Several have since come forth and said they were coerced into filing those statements by MSG.
Truly a remarkable organization. Unfortunately,one presumes,regardless of the outcome of this case, Halkett and Vogel, just like Isiah Thomas, will still be employed. And how does this help the public image of professional sports in general and of hockey in particular?
Yup! You've Come a Long Way, Baby! And you've come a long way hockey fans! Just sit back and consider this humiliating and degrading behavior by hockey "executives" an expense of modern-day marketing of a family sport. Isn't all publicity for the sport good publicity?
So what's the bottom line Rangers fans? The citizens of New York have already proved what suckers they are by giving MSG a ZERO property tax bill which saves Dolan over $10 million dollars per year. The next time you are told that the cost of Rangers tickets is going up, consider yourselves privileged to pay the sin taxes of others, because the money you give to Mr. Dolan pays for these judgments and helps perpetuate behavior that is detrimental to hockey. GO TEAM! RAH! RAH! RAH!