SALT LAKE CITY — A tumultuous week in the history of the Real Salt Lake organization became rockier after it was announced Tuesday that Andy Carroll, the organization's chief business officer, would be taking a leave of absence following allegations of sexist behavior and other types of workplace misconduct.
Major League Soccer also announced an investigation into Carroll, after the allegations surfaced.
Fox 13 spoke with multiple former and current employees of RSL, who described working in a hostile environment, that they said prevented them from reporting any issues to HR.
Each past and present employee asked for their identities to remain private, for fear of retaliation.
"The culture was very toxic, to say the least," one former employee said.
A current employee described it as both toxic and "abusive."
They said Carroll frequently made inappropriate comments directly to employees, and about other employees. Some of those comments, the employees said, were about women in the organization that the employees felt were sexist and uncomfortable.
One former employee described some comments as "locker room talk," and relayed that many comments had to do with the looks and appearance of female employees.
"It was pretty well-common and known across the board," another former RSL employee said, to Fox 13 in a phone interview. "He was known for just saying things that were kind of out of left field."
He and others expressed feeling like they couldn't bring their complaints to HR.
"People may have had the fear of, 'Oh, I may get fired if I bring something up,' or, 'If I bring something up, it's going to go straight directly up to Andy and Dell Loy, and who knows, I may get fired or nothing will ever happen with whatever I'm reporting,'" the former employee said. "That was at least my perspective."
Each person talked about intimidation and bullying in the office-- either against them personally, or watching it happen against others.
The person who described the locker room talk said employees were belittled and made to feel inadequate at their jobs.
"Andy Carroll is a terror," that former employee said. "He's an absolute monster."
He and a third former employee indicated that RSL was a difficult place to work, and they felt it was directly because of Carroll's leadership and management.
"It was almost a culture of fear, a culture of, keep your head down and work don't say anything to upset certain people in management," said the former employee who described not being able to report to HR. "And it wasn't good."
Fox 13 has reached out to Carroll about the allegations.
Carroll's leave of absence begins just days after Dell Loy Hansen announced he would sell his stake in RSL, the Utah Royals and Real Monarchs after investigations began into possible racist comments made while owner of Utah Soccer Holdings.
RSL released a statement about Carroll's leave of absence Tuesday:
Utah Soccer was extremely disappointed by the allegations in the recent RSL Soapbox article regarding Mr. Carroll. Mr. Carroll has spent notable time and energy to further the business operations of the organization. Still, Utah Soccer takes these allegations extremely seriously. Utah Soccer prioritizes the safety, well-being, and security of its players and employees above all, and does not tolerate discriminatory or derogatory conduct of any kind. While Utah Soccer endeavors to learn more about the allegations raised in the article, Mr. Carroll will be taking a leave of absence from the organization until further notice.
Major League Soccer also released a statement, saying that a law firm would oversee the, "allegations concerning the culture at Real Salt Lake and the comments and conduct of investor-operator Dell Loy Hansen and Chief Business Officer Andrew Carroll."
Their statement reads:
Major League Soccer takes seriously the recent allegations concerning the culture at Real Salt Lake and the comments and conduct of investor-operator Dell Loy Hansen and Chief Business Officer Andrew Carroll. The league retained the New York-based law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP to oversee the investigation, and these matters will be addressed promptly. We are deeply committed to maintaining an environment based on respect and integrity, free of discrimination in any form. Our employees, clubs, players, and fans remain our top priority.