Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Atlanta Braves fired one of their scouts because of his medical condition, he claims

Federal Court

By John Suayan | Sep 4, 2019

Baseball bat

PHILADELPHIA – A federal lawsuit accuses the Atlanta Braves baseball organization and its corporate owner, Liberty Media Corp., of discriminating against a former scout after they learned of his physical disabilities.

Flourtown resident Matthew Carroll filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Aug. 19, alleging that he was wrongfully terminated.

“Upper management employees of the Atlanta Braves expressed discomfort and reluctance towards the plaintiff maintaining his professional scouting duties after learning of the plaintiff’s disabilities, even though the plaintiff remained a remarkable professional scout throughout his employment with the defendants,” the complaint said.

Carroll played collegiate baseball at Penn State University before building a decade-long career as a professional baseball scout. He worked with the St. Louis Cardinals from approximately 2005 to 2010 and then was hired by the defendants to serve as the Special Assistant to then-General Manager Frank Wren.

The hiring distinguished the plaintiff, who was 29 at the time, as “one of the youngest professionals ever in Major League Baseball to hold such a prestigious title,” according to the suit.

In 2015, Wren ended his employment with the Braves and the team brought John Hart in to be their President of Baseball Operations. Meanwhile, Carroll became a Major League Scout whose superior was General Manager John Coppolella.

The complainant was tasked with evaluating players at the major and minor league levels, as well as managing relationships with senior level leaders from other baseball organizations, he says.

“During his employment with the defendants, the plaintiff consistently demonstrated excellent performance and dedication to the defendants,” the suit said. “By way of example, the plaintiff received positive feedback and performed his job duties and responsibilities in a highly competent manner.”

Carroll allegedly started to exhibit symptoms in connection with his serious medical condition sometime in 2013. He suffered from “severe headaches, extreme difficulty sleeping, a lack of energy, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and anxiety/depression,” the suit said. He says he was suffering from a severe hormonal imbalance.

These symptoms were initially thought to be cancer-related, prompting physicians to prescribe the plaintiff medications intended for cancer patients. Eventually, it was determined that he bore no cancerous cells, the suit says.

The suit further stated that Carroll divulged his medical condition to solely Coppolella, but other team representatives such as Billy Ryan, the Director of Baseball Operations, and Matt Grabowski, the Director of Scouting & Analytics, were informed by the general manager in a 2016 conference call without Carroll's permission.

Carroll claimed that Ryan told him that the defendants would attempt to make reasonable accommodations and even guaranteed him job security for the 2017 season and a $100,000 salary. 

At around the end of the 2016 season, however, Coppolella suggested to the plaintiff that he “should begin searching for future employment outside of the Atlanta Braves organization starting for the 2018 baseball season,” the suit said.

According to the plaintiff, the defendants recommended that if he wanted to stay employed with the franchise, he should take the position of Professional Scout, which the suit says is a demotion.

Carroll accepted the job only to be terminated about a year later, he says.

“To the best of the plaintiff’s knowledge, he was the only scout terminated on or about Aug. 2, 2017 (effective Oct. 31, 2017), and the defendants retained all other Major League and Professional Scouts – all of whom are, to the plaintiff’s knowledge, non-disabled,” the suit said.

The Pennsylvania Record’s efforts to reach both Carroll’s legal counsel and LMC were unsuccessful.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania