Two former youth coaches for the Chivas USA soccer team have filed a lawsuit alleging ethnic discrimination. In a twist on the typical workplace discrimination case, the plaintiffs are white males who were fired along with eight other white employees. They claim the employer intentionally discriminated against them because they are not of Latino descent.

The men both worked for over a year as coaches for Chivas USA Academy, the Major League Soccer team’s youth soccer program. They claim in their court filing that the team’s owner harassed them and other non-Mexican and non-Latino employees. They also claim the team required coaches to gather national origin and ethnicity information about the academy’s players and the players’ parents but were not told how this information would be used. In January, one of the plaintiffs met with the team’s president about his concerns. The president allegedly indicated the team planned to implement the Mexican-only policy of its counterpart in Guadalajara, Mexico. That coach was suspended shortly thereafter, and both coaches were fired by March.

The plaintiffs’ court filing alleges discrimination and harassment on the basis of race and ethnicity. It also alleges retaliation. The case is pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The plaintiffs seek damages of an unspecified amount.

Race and national origin discrimination are prohibited under both federal and California law. Just as the law prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee because he or she was born in a foreign country or is of a certain race or ethnicity, it also prohibits favoring minority or foreign-born employees over others. Cases like this sometimes are known as reverse discrimination cases. Employers must disregard an employee’s ethnicity or national origin in making any employment decision, good or bad, or they may run the risk of a lawsuit.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Former Youth Coaches Accuse Chivas USA of Discrimination“, John Cádiz Klemack and John Simerson, May 29, 2013