Lawsuit Exposes Systematic Discrimination in MLB
Last week, Angel Hernandez filed a lawsuit, Hernandez v. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and Major League Baseball Blue, Inc., Case No. 17-cv-00456, alleging discrimination in how MLB’s promotion and postseason assignment policies are administered for umpires. Despite a remarkable 96.88% accuracy rating on calling balls and strikes in 2016, Hernandez was not assigned to work any of the seven World Series games and entered the 2017 season with the same job title he had when he began working for MLB in 1993. Each of the last 23 umpires promoted to the position of Crew Chief, as well as 34 of the last 35 umpires assigned to work the World Series, have all been white.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly prohibits workplace discrimination against an employee based on the employee’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin. To prove a prima facie case for disparate treatment discrimination under Title VII, an employee must show that he or she: 1) belongs to a protected class; 2) was qualified for the job; 3) was subjected to an adverse employment action; 4) the employer gave better treatment to a similarly-situated person outside the plaintiff’s protected class.
Hernandez is a member of a protected class based on his Latino race, the color of his skin and foreign national origin. Hernandez claims that he was passed over for promotion and excluded from working the World Series while other less experienced, lower-rated umpires outside of his protected class were promoted to such prestigious positions.
The lawsuit is significant as it showcases that workers face discrimination even in the most high-profile industries. MLB has previously faced controversy for the lack of diversity in teams' front offices and coaching staffs, and this lawsuit could lead to a slew of potential claims from other umpires. Employees in all industries need to recognize the signs for when they are being treated unfairly.
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About Innessa Melamed Huot