San Diego Wave president Jill Ellis denies former employee's allegations of workplace abuse

San Diego Wave president Jill Ellis has denied a former employee’s allegations of abuse at the club, saying Friday they are “false accusations” and “personally damaging.”

Former Wave video and creative manager Brittany Alvarado alleged on social media Wednesday the club “perpetuated discrimination against women and demonstrated a complete disregard for (employees’) long-term mental health.”

San Diego strongly denied the allegations, saying it was “aware of a recent social media post by a former employee that contains inaccurate and defamatory statements about the club” and it “intends to pursue all legal avenues available to appropriately address this matter.”

Former U.S. women’s national team coach Ellis added in a statement shared with The Athletic: “When allegations of mistreatment have been made, we have taken them seriously and investigated them thoroughly.

“In addition, when appropriate, independent third parties have assisted us in evaluating our workplace. At no time have those evaluations uncovered any wrongdoing by the club.

“The false accusations… are not only personally damaging but also take away from the incredible work and progress we’ve achieved together as a team. It’s important to address this information promptly and effectively.”

Ellis also emphasized San Diego is “all about fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity and excellence.”

A post on Alvarado’s X account attributed the negative treatment of employees to an unhealthy work environment fostered by Ellis. It said of more than 30 employees who were fired or quit since the team began operation, nearly 75 percent of them were women and called for Ellis to be removed from her position.

Alvarado’s LinkedIn shows she began working for the club in March 2023, with a follow-up post from Alvarado’s account stating she resigned on June 7, 2024.

“Mental health is a priority at our club for everyone, and we have support measures in place to help those in need,” Ellis said. “Our staff and I will always honor how someone feels. Over time, we have actively responded to employees who have shown or expressed needs related to their mental health.

“I want to reinforce that Wave FC has a robust Employee Assistance Program that is promoted regularly to employees. I will continue to protect former and current employee confidentiality.

“Our focus remains on moving forward and continuing to build a strong, unified club.”

Alvarado’s post also alleged NWSL “failed to fully address and implement recommendations from the Sally Yates Report and the NWSLPA Joint Investigation from 2022.”

The league announced in January 2023 it was taking “corrective action” in response to the findings in that joint investigation, instituting different levels of sanctions in response to both individual and organizational misconduct. NWSL also has an anti-harassment policy that includes prohibiting emotional misconduct, bullying, or retaliation for engaging in protected activity, including reporting or objecting to misconduct.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the league said, “We take seriously any and every report of potential misconduct, hire qualified independent investigators to review those allegations thoroughly, and act when allegations are supported by the facts uncovered. We have mandated corrective action in every instance where reports have been corroborated, up to and including the removal of individuals who do not live up to our values and standards.”

Following Alvarado’s post, some USWNT players who had been coached by Ellis shared comments on social media.

“It’s the courage of one person to start telling their story in hopes that more people will feel comfortable enough to one day tell theirs,” former USWNT striker Sydney Leroux wrote on X in apparent support of Alvardo.

Wave striker Alex Morgan also made a statement on her social media account, stating: “I am disappointed to hear about the allegations made by multiple former Wave FC employees today…. I want to be proud of what we are building at the Wave but it is clear that there is so much work to be done.”

(Photo: Ira L. Black – Corbis / Getty Images)

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