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2 fired coaches sue soccer team for race discrimination

Generally, we're used to seeing racial discrimination cases based on prejudice against workers who are Latinos, African Americans and other racial minorities. Sometimes, however, a Caucasian can complain of discrimination at the hands of a Latino or other racial group that constitutes a majority under the particular circumstances. That's the situation in a race discrimination case just filed against a Major League soccer team, Chivas USA, in a California court.

Two former youth coaches filed the race discrimination suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court saying they were fired because they weren't Latino or Mexican. The suit also claims retaliation and harassment based on racial or national origin discrimination. The two men are white. They allege that when the team was taken over by new ownership there was a push to get rid of employees who were not Latino or Mexican. They said that the team president and chief business officer was aggressively involved in the discriminatory effort.

They claim that one owner of the team said that all non-Spanish speaking employees would be fired. The current owners also control the Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico, which supposedly has a Mexican-only policy. A spokesperson for Chivas USA refused to comment on the lawsuit.

It appears that the team has been purged of many non-Hispanic players and replaced by Hispanic ones. The two men were fired in March 2013 for what was called unprofessional conduct creating an unsafe environment. They counter that they were told that the team was going back to its Mexican roots and they were not a part of those plans.

Federal anti-discrimination statutes prohibit a covered employer from making employment decisions in the hiring, firing or promoting of employees based on race or ethnicity. The California case will have to determine whether the decisions to fire the two men were based primarily on race discrimination or on the reason stated by the team. As a practical matter, if the claimants prevail they'll win an award of money damages rather than being reinstated to their former positions. In some cases, damages can include, in addition to lost wages, benefits that were lost as a result of the wrongful termination.

Source: Yahoo! Sports, "Ex-Chivas USA employees file discrimination suit," Greg Risling, May 29, 2013