Chivas USA’s Off-Field Problems Continue with New Discrimination Lawsuit

Although Chivas USA had a break this weekend on the pitch, the club’s off-field problems continued to mount as it faced a new discrimination lawsuit brought by former human resources executive, Cynthia Craig.  According to a report from the Torrance Daily Breeze, Craig, who is black and a former human resources and administrative manager with the Chivas USA organization, alleges in a complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court that Chivas USA team officials “flout[ed] employment laws, temporarily hiring undocumented coaches and discriminating against non-Latino employees.”

Although the full text of the originally filed complaint was not immediately available to Business of Soccer, the Daily Breeze reported that Craig alleged, in addition to discrimination claims, that beginning in January 2013, Chivas USA hired four coaches from Mexico that were not authorized to work in the United States and, after Craig refused to add the coaches to the payroll, team executives paid those coaches through other avenues.  The complaint claims that the coaches received visas in April of this year.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Craig’s position at Chivas USA has received publicity.  In May 2013, two former Chivas USA youth coaches, Dan Calichman and Teddy Chronopoulos, brought suit against the team alleging a variety of discrimination claims under California law after they were fired.  In that complaint, Calichman alleged that after Calichman was asked to step down, Craig told Calichman: “We know you’re an excellent coach,” but told him the organization was “moving in a different direction.”  After Calichman and Chronopoulos alleged that they submitted harassment and discrimination claims to Craig, who was acting as Chivas USA’s human resources manager at the time, but Craig failed to respond or take effective action.

Many commentators have noted—and rightfully so—that Craig’s complaint is particularly troubling because the factual discrimination allegations are quite similar to Calichman’s and Chronopoulos’s allegations.  But the new complaint is also notable because it alleges new claims that Chivas USA deliberately disregarded labor laws in pursuit of allegedly discriminatory motives.  Those allegations suggest that the Chivas USA organization may be in more turmoil than previously suggested: the allegations are no longer simply about discriminating against non-Latinos.  If Craig proves her allegations, Chivas USA would appear to be thumbing its nose at United States employment and labor regulations in general.

In short, while many would suggest that the Craig lawsuit is just more of the same for Chivas USA, perhaps the biggest news is the additional allegations of improper labor practices.  Assuming the plaintiffs in the Chivas USA lawsuits can establish their claims, those claims would paint a picture of an organization that is not only in disarray, but that lacks respect for clearly established labor and employment regulations.*

 

* None of the material contained herein is offered, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.  You should not act or rely upon information contained in the above material without specifically seeking professional legal advice.

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