(Image courtesy of NJ/NY Gotham FC twitter)
Alyse LaHue, the General Manager of NJ/NY Gotham FC, has been fired. Yesterday July 16th, the club issued a statement that LaHue had been let go on July 9. According to the club, the decision to fire LaHue was “based on the result of a league investigation into a complaint of violation of League policy.”
The policy is intended to create and maintain “a safe and respectful work environment that is free from all forms of harassment (including sexual harassment) and discrimination.” The policy is 16 pages long and includes the Employee Complaint Form. Harassment is defined by the policy as “unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical or visual, that is based on a person’s race, religion, national origin, or any other protected status.” Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when submission or rejection of such conduct is implicitly or explicitly affects the individual’s employment, or when the conduct might or does interfere with an individual’s ability to do their job while creating an “intimadating, hostile, or offensive working environment.” The policy goes on to outline Sexual Misconduct, Emotional Misconduct, Physical Misconduct, Bullying and Hazing as well.
The policy states that although confidentiality cannot be completely guaranteed, it will be maintained “to the extent practical and permitted by law, and information will only be shared with others on a need-to-know basis.”
As such, the NJ/NY Gotham FC statement is understandably vague in its nature.
But this statement generates a significant amount of concern and triggers memories of an earlier iteration of the NJ/NY football club. Just a few short years ago, Gotham — then known as Sky Blue FC, was the pinnacle of dysfunction. In July of 2018, Stephanie Yang, now with The Athletic, reported for SB Nation that players were not reimbursed for daily travel to and from practice or for relocation expenses. Players didn’t have stable or adequate housing and often had to move in the middle of the season. The Sky Blue locker room had no showers or ACs, and no designated training facility. (You can click here to read the whole article if you want a refresher on how bad things were for Sky Blue.) The ownership group and the NWSL received pressure to fire manager Tony Novo.
The league’s slow reaction to the reports did not inspire confidence. In the ensuing year, multiple players, including new draftees, refused to play for Sky Blue and left the country instead. Finally, in April of 2019, nearly a year after Yang’s article was published, Novo resigned as Club President and General Manager. Then-Vice President Alyce LaHue, who had previously been the GM of the Chicago Red Stars, was hired as interim GM. The interim tag was removed in September 2019.
LaHue had received immense praise for creating a new and winning culture for the NJ/NY football club, which rebranded in April of this year. Gotham’s announcement today alludes to LaHue’s success: “During her three years with the Club, Gotham FC has made significant strides on and off the field and built the foundation for continued success.”
Without knowing any facts about what transpired, we can only hope that Gotham’s foremost commitment is to a safe, respectful, and equitable working environment for all personnel.
On Twitter, Linehan later reported that Kelly M. Hoffman, Esq., Attorney for Alyse LaHue, provided the following statement: “Ms. LaHue denies the allegations made against her and will make no further comment.”
Gotham’s own statement concludes: “Vice Chair Ed Nalbandian will oversee day-to-day operations while ownership, led by Club Chair Tammy Murphy, begins to search for a successor.”
NJ/NY Gotham FC will take the pitch today at 3 PM EST, when they visit the Washington Spirit.