Fired Umpire Sues MLB Over Harassment, Discrimination Claims

MLB Umpire Alleges Discrimination and Harassment in Lawsuit.

by Nouman Rasool
Fired Umpire Sues MLB Over Harassment, Discrimination Claims
© Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Former minor league umpire Brandon Cooper has taken legal action against Major League Baseball (MLB), alleging sexual harassment and discrimination based on his gender and sexual orientation. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan against MLB and PDL Blue Inc., an affiliated entity, Cooper claims he faced mistreatment during his tenure in the minor league Arizona Complex League.

The suit contends that MLB's umpiring ranks have historically lacked diversity, with a predominant presence of Caucasian men. Cooper asserts that efforts to address this issue, such as implementing diversity quotas, have resulted in discriminatory practices.

Specifically, he alleges that MLB mandated the promotion of women without regard for merit, leading to an unfair hiring process. Cooper recounts attending umpire training camps in 2022 and 2023, where he was allegedly informed of MLB's directive to hire a minimum of two women out of 10 new hires.

Despite receiving positive evaluations and ratings, Cooper claims he was sidelined during spring training in 2023 and informed that women and minority candidates would be prioritized in hiring decisions.

Alleged Homophobic Harassment

The lawsuit highlights an incident involving fellow umpire Gina Quartararo, who allegedly subjected Cooper to homophobic slurs and derogatory remarks upon learning of his sexual orientation.

Despite reporting the harassment, Cooper claims he was forced to undergo sensitivity training and was subsequently accused of violating the league's anti-discrimination policy. Further exacerbating the situation, Cooper alleges that MLB's senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Billy Bean, disregarded evidence of Quartararo's misconduct and instead sided with her claims of victimization.

Subsequently, Cooper asserts that he was unjustly excluded from playoff assignments and ultimately terminated from his position, purportedly as a result of his gender and sexual orientation. In response to inquiries about the litigation, MLB declined to comment, citing the ongoing nature of the legal proceedings.

Additionally, efforts were made to contact Quartararo for her perspective on the matter. Notably, Quartararo is among the nine women currently serving as minor league umpires, reflecting MLB's recent efforts to diversify its officiating ranks.

This legal action underscores ongoing challenges within MLB regarding diversity and inclusion, as well as the complexities of addressing discrimination and harassment in professional sports officiating.