Group wants close eye kept on incoming Astros owner

May 16, 2011 7:12:18 PM PDT
During Monday afternoon's announcement about the sale of the Astros, Jim Crane, who led a group that purchased the team, addressed questions about a discrimination lawsuit filed against his company, which was settled for $9 million dollars. Crane could be the newest majority owners of the Houston Astros after reaching a deal with current owner Drayton McLane.

"I believe in running a first class franchise," said Crane during Monday's press conference.

But over the last decade and a half, he was found to be running a less that first class global freight operation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the multimillionaire complicit in discrimination within his then-company, Eagle Global Logistics. A two-year investigation began in 1997. The EEOC found a number violations against Crane's company, which was fined for:

  • Failing or refusing to promote African-Americans.
  • Demoting females from managerial positions
  • Maintaining a hostile work environment against African-Americans, Hispanics and females with respect to terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
  • Failing to adequately investigate incidents of sexual and gender harassment.
The EEOC also says his company destroyed evidence the company was instructed to maintain as part of the two-year investigation. His company at the time denied any wrongdoing.

"If you've done your homework on that, there really wasn't a problem there," Crane told us. "We can address that later. But I don't think it's going to be a problem whatsoever."

It was enough of a problem for Crane's company to reach a $9 million settlement with the EEOC. And now it's something other Major League team owners will have to consider when they vote to approve or block Crane's offer for the Astros.

"You have issues at times," said McLane. "He said that was a learning experience for him and he has certainly moved well past that and has never had another problem."

If the deal does go through, the NAACP is asking for someone to keep watch.

"We are deeply concerned that someone, that has a broad reach throughout the community and across the country regarding employment ... has such a dismal record in the area of discrimination. As such this is someone that should be monitored very closely in the area of employment discrimination as it relates to minorities and woman," the group said in a statement."

Eight-point-five million dollars of that $9 settlement went to back pay and damages to minorities who worked at Eagle from 1995 to 2000. The remaining $500,000 was to implement a leadership development program to benefit minorities and women for those roles within eagle global logistics.


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