Two white former coaches for MLS soccer team Chivas USA have sued the team for national origin discrimination and reverse race discrimination, claiming the team fired them because they are white and not of Mexican ancestry. The case is a good reminder that employees are protected from discrimination, even if they belong to a typically “majority” group.
According to the Complaint, shortly after businessman Jorge Vergara, who is Mexican, bought Chivas USA, he told staff that employees who did not speak Spanish would be fired. Soon after that, the team began collecting information on employees’ national origin and ethnicities, seeking to determine which of them were Mexican or Mexican American. When two coaches complained about these developments, the new President allegedly told them that ownership was taking the team back to “its Mexican roots.” According to the LA Times, Vergara also owns the only soccer team in the Mexican league that has never fielded a non-Mexican player.
While most employment discrimination lawsuits involve plaintiffs who are in a minority group, the Ohio and federal anti-discrimination laws do not protect only those employees. Instead, employees who are in the traditional majority — such as white employees and those of American national origin — are protected from race discrimination and national origin discrimination as well. When such an employee brings a “reverse discrimination” case, the employee must show the employer is the “unusual employer who discriminates against the majority.” The allegations in the Chivas case, if true, suggest that the soccer team does indeed disfavor employees who are not Mexican.
While white and American employees are certainly in the majority generally, they are still entitled to protection from unlawful discrimination.