ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Many women employees of the Minnesota North Stars say club owner Norman Green has created a climate of sexual harassment, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Sunday.
The newspaper said Green's penchant for kissing female employees on the cheek and commenting on their clothes and makeup has continued despite efforts by his staff to educate him on the issue.
The Pioneer Press said Green admitted in an interview Friday that he has engaged in such 'affectionate' behavior but said it was his way of creating a 'family atmosphere.' He denied any sexual overtones.
'I must say categorically that the problems I have had are a matter of inappropriate style and not substance,' he said in a written statement given the newspaper after the interview.
Green, 58, a Canadian businessman who bought the North Stars in 1990, said he will change.
'If somebody says the rules of Minnesota are different from the rules of Calgary, I'm going to fit into that and we're going to change that,' he said. 'I do not know your rules. But I do know the rules of logic and respect. And there isn't anybody that respects women more than I.
'It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that if there are some people who feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, I should change that style. In 40 years I've never had anyone complain.'
Green's wife, Kelly, said she would have stepped in long ago if she thought he was creating a problem.
'If I thought for a minute that anyone found that offensive, I'd jump all over him,' she said. 'No one's more surprised than me. But, OK, if that's the way it is, he'll change.'
One former employee, Kari Dziedzic of Edina, has hired a lawyer and is considering suing Green. She says his pattern of behavior forced her to quit. Her lawyer, Ron Rosenbaum, called Green's style 'demeaning,' 'humiliating' and 'illegal.'
Dziedzic, who worked for the team from September 1991 until August 1992, claims Green commented on her makeup at least weekly and also told her to watch her diet.
Rosenbaum said Green once slapped Dziedzic's hand lightly and told her it 'wasn't ladylike' to scratch her hip in the office. He sometimes would comment that her outfit was 'very sexy' or 'very hot, ' Rosenbaum said.
Green denies using the word sexy to describe an employee's dress, adding he once fired a woman because she wore a skirt he considered too short.
But other current and former female employees have lodged similar complaints with the club's management.
Pat Forceia, the team's senior vice president, said he has discussed sexual harassment complaints with Green about a half dozen times during the past 18 months.