Former employee sues Detroit Tigers on discrimination accusations after termination

Woman spent 21 years working for Tigers organization, lawsuit says

Comerica Park in Detroit. (Ken Haddad, WDIV/Ken Haddad)

DETROIT – A woman who was terminated by the Detroit Tigers after 21 years is suing the organization and its parent company on accusations of race, sex, and age discrimination.

Elaine Hendrix, 64, of Detroit, filed a lawsuit Monday, May 22, 2023, against the Tigers and Olympia Entertainment in connection with her termination on Sept. 20, 2020.

Employment background

Hendrix was first hired by the Tigers on Feb. 22, 1999, as the team’s vice president of planning and research, according to the lawsuit. Her job included helping the Tigers during their move from Tiger Stadium to Comerica Park.

She transitioned to vice president of public affairs and strategic planning around 2002, and that’s the position she held for the rest of her time with the Tigers, she said. Hendrix was the first Black vice president, as well as the first woman vice president hired by the Tigers, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Hendrix created and organized the team’s Winter Caravan, the Memorabilia Program, and the Ticket Donation Program.

“Based on (Hendrix’s) exemplary professional reputation, strong community ties, and her successful execution on the above-referenced events and programs, the Tigers became a bastion of community outreach and engagement during the relevant period,” the lawsuit says.

Hendrix said she received “exceeds expectations” on her annual performance reviews every year until the spring of 2020.


The lawsuit says Olympia hired Emily Neenan as its chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sports and entertainment in July 2019. Hendrix reported directly to Neenan after the hiring.

Hendrix said she scheduled weekly one-on-one meetings with Neenan, but Neenan was often unavailable. When they did meet, Hendrix said Neenan never communicated her expectations or provided constructive feedback.

The lawsuit says Neenan never expressed dissatisfaction with Hendrix’s work.

Hendrix received a “does not meet expectations” during her 2019 performance review, which she received in the spring of 2020. Neenan was not available to meet with Hendrix in person or over the phone to discuss the review, according to the lawsuit.

Hendrix accuses Neenan of decreasing her work responsibilities between 2019 and 2020. Hendrix said she wasn’t offered the resources she needed to do her job, even though those resources were provided to other employees.

A human resources worker and Neenan told Hendrix in September 2020 that her role was being removed due to a workforce reduction, the lawsuit says. They offered her 21 weeks of pay as a severance package, while other similarly situated employees received severance packages worth a full year’s salary, the lawsuit alleges.

Hendrix accuses the Tigers of offering her a worse severance package than others because she was a 64-year-old Black woman.

On Sept. 20, 2020, Hendrix was the only vice president terminated during the reduction in workforce, according to the lawsuit.

Discrimination accusations

In the lawsuit, Hendrix accuses the Tigers and Olympia of:

  • Race discrimination.
  • Race and sex discrimination.
  • Age discrimination.
  • Violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act -- age, sex, and race discrimination.

She requested a jury trial and compensation for the damages.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.