MLB settles lawsuit with Morioka


Major League Baseball, which had been the target of a $3.4 million lawsuit by Tokyo native Juri Morioka, charging wrongful termination and overt racism against Asians, has quietly settled the case, The Japan Times has learned.

Morioka filed the suit in federal court in New York in October 2003. She had been fired five months earlier, following a 15-month tenure as an administrative assistant for Russell Gabay, the executive producer for Major League Baseball International.

Morioka accused Gabay and others in the International Department with subjecting her to continually demeaning comments about Asians, and said that when she confronted top management with the allegations, she was terminated and the whole case was covered up.

In January, the MLB’s executive vice president of labor relations, Rob Manfred, said that Morioka’s lawsuit was “entirely without merit” and referred to her as a “disgruntled employee.”

Morioka, who told her story exclusively to The Japan Times in January, said at the time, “The trouble started early on. It was unbelievable. At the beginning I was in denial, I couldn’t believe this was happening. . . “

Morioka, the first ever full-time Japanese employee of the MLB, was seeking compensation for lost wages, future earnings, punitive damages and compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering.

“The case has been resolved,” a source said.

Details of the settlement are confidential. The case had been scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 15, 2005.

Morioka, her attorney, Peter Eikenberry, and Manfred all declined to comment on the settlement.