Lawsuit: Chivas USA Soccer Team Hired 'Undocumented' Coaches, Discriminated Against Non-Hispanic Employees

A former employee has sued Major League Soccer team Chivas USA for discriminating against non-Hispanic employees and temporarily employing "undocumented" coaches. 

According to the Daily Breeze, "former human resources and administrative manager Cynthia Craig, who is black, said in court papers that she was harassed by team owner Jorge Vergara and team President Jose David because she was not Latino and could not speak Spanish."

Vergara, who had been a part owner of the team, "gained full control of the team in November 2012 and began harassing non-Latino employees. Vergara also owns a Mexican team called Chivas de Guadalajara, which is famous in part because it will not sign non-Mexican players."

Vergara is trying to make Chivas USA like Chivas de Guadalajara.

According to her suit, "Chivas hired four coaches from Mexico even though they were not authorized to work in the United States" in January. She was "told to add the coaches to the payroll but she refused, and team executives instead routed them money through other means." The coaches allegedly received their visas in April. 

Vergara reportedly began one of his first staff meetings by speaking in Spanish and then, according to the report, said in English, “If you didn’t understand what I just said, then it is time for you to get a job down the hall." The Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team is down the hall from Chivas USA.

According to the Breeze, Craig said she attempted to ask team executives to clarify Vergara’s statements for employees.

“Plaintiff again told (team president) David, this time in front of the entire management team, that the staff was shocked and offended by Vergara’s discriminatory statements,” the complaint states. “David asserted that the statements were just ‘black humor,’ and that if people wanted to resign, that would be fine with him.”

According to the complaint, Craig, who left the organization after repeated harassment, "repeatedly complained about these and many other unlawful practices after Vergara acquired exclusive control of Chivas."

“In response, Chivas engaged in a pattern and practice of wanton retaliation against plaintiff," the complaint asserts.

The complaint also alleges that Craig "complained to David regarding the discriminatory termination and hiring process, and requested that David allow her to coordinate open recruitments." 

“David refused, and continued to hire only employees from Mexico or persons who were recommended by Chivas Guadalajara," the complaint states.

This is not the first time Chivas USA has been sued for discriminating against non-Hispanics.

In another suit filed in May in Los Angeles County Superior Court, two former coaches, Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, claimed "harassment and retaliation based on ethnicity and race." The two coaches worked at the club's academy,"which provides soccer programs for youths."

''If you don't speak Spanish, you can go work for the Galaxy, unless you speak Chinese, which is not even a language,''' Vergara allegedly told employees, according to the lawsuit. 

Further, Chivas USA president and chief business officer allegedly directed employees to "gather ethnic and other data about the children enrolled in the academy and their parents" because the team would be adopting a "Mexican-only" policy. A human resource manager allegedly told Calichman that "the team was going back to its Mexican roots and indicated neither youth coach would be part of that effort," according to the lawsuit.

Photo credit: USA Today


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