MLS Team Chivas USA Faces Race Discrimination Lawsuit
Major League Soccer (MLS) team Chivas USA is being sued for race discrimination by two of its former youth coaches. The lawsuit, which was filed on May 28, 2013, alleges that former youth coaches Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos were fired because they are not Mexican or Latino. The suit is also alleging that both coaches were harassed and retaliated against for reasons related to their race and ethnicity.
Calichman and Chronopoulos coached the team’s academy, providing soccer programs to youths, for over one year. However, the suit alleges that when the team was eventually acquired by Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes, who also own the Chivas Guadalajara team in Mexico, there was an effort to replace all individuals who were not of Mexican or Latino Heritage.
Last November, Vergara allegedly told his staff that all non-Spanish speaking employees would be replaced, and asked the English speakers to raise their hands. According to the lawsuit, he then allegedly told his employees, “If you don’t speak Spanish, you can go work for the Galaxy, unless you speak Chinese, which is not even a language.” Additionally, during the offseason, the team’s roster experienced drastic changes with many non-Latino players being traded or fired and replaced with players who are Latino. The owners, along with Coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, defended the moves claiming that having more Mexican players on the MLS team makes them eligible to play for the Mexican team, whose policy is to only include Mexican players on the roster.
In December, Calichman was then allegedly ordered to compile a list of ethnic data about the youths participating in his program as well as their parents, which prompted him to file an internal complaint. Although he was promised an internal investigation, he claims he has never received results from any investigations. Shortly thereafter, Calichman and Chronopoulos were suspended, and then fired. When asked about the lawsuit, Calichman responded, “I think it’s morally wrong. Normally when you get hired, you get hired on your merit and skill level and not by the color of your skin or ethnicity.”
Both federal and California law prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race or national origin, and also make it illegal for an employer to harass or retaliate against an employee for complaining about such discrimination.
If you or someone you know have been the victim of employment discrimination, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a private consultation.