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San Diego Wave FC contests hostile workplace allegations by former employee

San Diego Wave FC displays their vibrant crest and colors at a news conference at the Scripps Seaside Forum on Dec. 15, 2021.
Melissa Mae
San Diego Wave FC displays their vibrant crest and colors at a news conference at the Scripps Seaside Forum on Dec. 15, 2021.

San Diego Wave FC and President Jill Ellis are denying allegations of a hostile workplace made by a former employee, who's calling on the club to fire Ellis.

"San Diego Wave FC has been made aware of a recent social media post by a former employee that contains inaccurate and defamatory statements about the club. Not only does the post contain a fabricated email, but the claims made therein are categorically false, including the ones directed at our President Jill Ellis," the team said Wednesday.

"San Diego Wave FC currently is reviewing this situation and it intends to pursue all legal avenues available to appropriately address this matter," the club added.


Brittany Alvarado, the Wave's former videographer, released her accusations in a statement on social media Wednesday.

"Despite its public proclamations, the organization often perpetuated discrimination against women and demonstrated complete disregard for their long-term mental health," Alvarado wrote.

"Since the team's inception, over 30 employees have bee fired or quit, 75% of them being women, underscoring the deep issues within the club," she added. "... On behalf of myself and my former colleagues, the treatment we endured under club President Jill Ellis has been nothing short of life-altering and devastating to our mental health. She has compromised countless lives to advance her narcissistic personal agenda, fostering an environment where abusive behaviors among her subordinates are allowed to flourish."

Alvarado resigned last month.

Ellis said mental health concerns are a priority for the club and noted that it has support measures, including an employee assistance program. She added that when allegations of mistreatment have occurred, the team has investigated.


"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," Ellis said in a statement. "What we do is all about fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, and excellence. The false accusations in [Wednesday's] post are not only personally damaging but also take away from the incredible work and progress we've achieved together as a team."

In addition to Alvarado's account, Wave freelance photographer Jenny Chuang said she was placed on suicide watch during her tenure with the club in 2022. She said she "begged" for help while her mental health declined rapidly, but was pressured to resign instead.

"It breaks my heart that nothing has changed in the past 2 years," Chuang said in a statement in response to Alvarado's post.

Chuang said she wanted to make it clear that the individuals who allegedly made her suffer no longer work with the Wave. Since Chuang returned to the league, she's had a good working relationship with the club as a freelancer and tries to stay out of any internal politics, she said on X.

Wave striker Alex Morgan, a former co-captain of the U.S. Women's National Team, said Wednesday that she was "disappointed to hear about the allegations made by multiple former Wave FC employees today. As players, we have worked hard to build a team that is surrounded by an inclusive, positive and safe environment.

"But it's important to me that we are creating that environment for both players and staff throughout the entire organization. Equity in the workplace is something I have and will continue to advocate for. 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."

The National Women's Soccer League also released a statement addressing the accusations.

"The safety, health, and well-being of everyone associated with our league is our highest priority," 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.

"We encourage anyone with information of potential wrongdoing to report that misconduct to the League Safety Officer."

An investigation commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2022 and led by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates exposed issues within the NWSL regarding accountability, player safety and a system that failed to address player complaints, according to ESPN.

The Wave fired head coach Casey Stoney on June 24 due to on-field performance issues, with the team tied for ninth place at the time. Assistant Coach Paul Buckle was named interim head coach amid a search for the new permanent head coach.