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Local Woman Settles Suit With The Chicago Cubs

Dec 27, 2004 | Montgomery Advertiser A federal judge has approved a settlement of a case in which a Montgomery woman who was a part-time baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs and their owners, the Tribune Co., accused the team of sexual discrimination for failing to promote her to a full-time scout.

Senior U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton signed the settlement agreement in the case, which originally had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this month.

Jennie D. "J.D." Patton, 48, of Montgomery, originally sued the Cubs and the Tribune Co., in 2003 after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued her a "right-to-sue" letter.

Terms of the settlement were sealed by Albritton, who ordered parties on either side not to discuss the details of the case.

Patton, who works for a Montgomery packaging firm, said she is pleased with the settlement and happy that the two-year court case has been completed.

"All I can say is I'm happy this has been resolved," she said. "I want to thank all the people who stood by my side through all of this. And there were a lot of them."

Even though she's out of baseball right now, Patton says she hasn't abandoned hopes of returning.

"I still love baseball," she said. "I still think it's a dream worth pursuing."

According to court papers, Patton was hired by the Cubs' scouting department on Jan. 5, 1994, as a part-time scout, earning $2,000 a year, plus expenses. Her lawsuit said she helped the Cubs "locate several outstanding baseball prospects."

Patton said she continually expressed an interest in becoming a full-time scout as she gained experience, but she was passed over by men with little or no scouting experience. In addition, her pay was cut, compared to that paid to comparable male scouts.

A full-time scout for the Cubs in 1997-98 was paid about $39,000 annually.

Patton, the only female scout in the Cubs' organization, was fired after she filed her charge of discrimination with the EEOC in 2002. The Cubs said her contract, along with the contracts of several other male scouts were not renewed because of financial reasons.

While she was a scout for the Cubs in the southeastern U.S., Patton was supervised by Jim Crawford. When Crawford was promoted to the new position of professional scout, Patton claimed she should have been hired to fill Crawford's spot. Instead his duties were divided among five part-time scouts.

Patton, a native of Tennessee, first started as a Major League Baseball scout in 1989 with the Chicago White Sox. She later worked for three years as a volunteer coach at Enterprise State Junior College.

"I was always amazed at the depth and breath of Ms. Patton's knowledge about baseball," Enterprise baseball coach Tim Hasley said in an affidavit signed May 17, 2004. "Indeed, she was the best I have ever seen at evaluating talent at the junior college level."

The Cubs and the Tribune Co., said Patton mainly scouted rural high schools and junior colleges in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. But Patton said she worked in larger cities in the South, plus throughout the state of Florida.

Preston Douglas, an experienced scout who gave a deposition in the case, said of the Cubs, "One thing I can say very strongly about the Chicago Cubs organization is that it exemplified them, and still exemplifies, as does most of professional baseball, a good 'ole' boy fraternal attitude and practices, with its rules of solidarity, discrimination, elimination and exclusion."

"As early as 1995, I heard discussions and statements within the Cubs organization that Ms. Patton would never be a full-time scout because she was a woman," Douglas said in the deposition.

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