Chivas USA sued by former youth coaches for discrimination

Chivas USA crest

BY MIKE DONOVAN 

Two former Chivas USA youth coaches have filed a lawsuit against the club, claiming they fired because they were “neither Mexican nor Latino,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Daniel Calichman and Ted Chronopoulos, who both played for the U.S. Mens National team and in MLS, had been coaching in the club’s youth academy until they were dismissed on March 7.

The suit alleges that after Jorge Vergara took over ownership of the Southern California club in the fall, notified his employees that any staff who did not speak Spanish would be fired. The complaint also claims that the coaches were told that ownership was taking the team back to “its Mexican roots” and that neither coach would be part of that effort.

Calichman is currently the head coach of Claremont McKenna College’s men’s soccer team and was capped twice by the U.S. National Team in 1997. Chronopoulos received one cap for the US in 1997 and has coached with various clubs, including the Charleston Battery and the New York Cosmos.

A spokeswoman for Chivas USA told the Times that the club would not comment about the suit.

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63 Responses to Chivas USA sued by former youth coaches for discrimination

  1. Old School says:

    “We like the direction of Chivas USA. We feel they add something different to the league.”

    -Don Garber

    *Sidenote*

    For anyone that plans on recording the and doesn’t want to be screwed over, ESPN has apparently changed the Beglium/USA match from ESPN2 to ESPN at the last moment.

  2. Edwin in LA says:

    I’m surprised it took this long…..they do have a high turnover ratio….since I decided to buy Season Tickets for them in 2010….I’ve had 3 different people contact me as the sales exec assigned to my account…as a previous purchaser of tickets…..

    I hope this forces them to change some things….even as Chivas USA they could operate well…..need to bring in Preki back….and apologize to him lol

  3. Chupacabra says:

    The entire complaint can be read here, if you want more details:

    link to folfry.com

    • Guest says:

      I wonder why this wan’t reported on the Major League Soccer official website, that’s the note I was looking for.

      • lol says:

        there is nothing to report just two crying babies lol.

        • Chupacabra says:

          Chivas = losers

          Bottom of the west and soon to be worst in MLS.

          Adios LA. Hola Orlando.

        • Good Jeremy says:

          Lol
          I am guessing that if I started firing employees because they didn’t speak an arbitrary second language it wouldn’t go over well.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Theothoros? As in Theothoros Chronopolous….

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      “If you don’t speak Spanish, you can go work for the Galaxy.”

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      allegedly asked coaches to “collect ethnic and national origin data pertaining to all Chivas Academy players and their parents.”

      • Guest says:

        Yeah, I read that in the link as well. Sounds like something they could have done. The whole Mexicentric speeches Vergara gave kind of spiled the beans. He wanted to take the club back to its roots of being only latino/mexican club.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        Is that legal?

  4. PJC says:

    The USA does not have an official language. Choosing an employee based on what language he or she speaks is very common. English is often the required language. How is choosing to employ those who speak Spanish any different (especially when many players speak Spanish and need a coach who can as well)?

    • Chupacabra says:

      Read the entire complaint, not just the quick summary in the article. There is much more to it beyond the Spanish-speaking part. Chivas was going as far as discriminating against academy prospects whose parents were not of Mexican or Mexican-American heritage. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly in the US.

    • kev says:

      Language requirements are often viewed with suspicion by courts where there is other indication of discrimination. It is far too easy to use that requirement as a proxy for race.

  5. Travis says:

    Would not be surprised at all if this was found out to be true but I would think it’ll be rather tough to prove, probably will settle out of court. Telling your current employees that if they don’t know Spanish they will be fired is a very slippery slope, not a lawyer but that doesn’t sound legal. You can put into a job description that you need to know a second language but to change it once you are already hired could cause issues I would think. There is no real reason that they have to speak Spanish, coaches around the world cope with not speaking the language of the country they coach in.

  6. MFP says:

    Nit-picky, but since I’m a Pomona grad, and the Claremont Colleges don’t get mentioned much, I believe Calichman would be the coach of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team, not the Claremont McKenna team.

    • Bohawk says:

      I’m pretty sure he is the coach of Claremont McKenna. I spent half a day with him a few years ago. He is a classy guy. Chivas is screwed as their behavior does not fly in the US.

  7. dan says:

    better late than never with this story

    • Guest says:

      I know its been around all day, wonder why it took Ives so long to report it. Usually he is the first to get this kind of information, and this is pretty big news.

      • Old School says:

        In fairness, he’s on the road and is usually very thorough with his fact checking prior to releasing a story.

        • Nick4235 says:

          Ya rather get news that’s accurate than the media speculation that comes out early… And good point about him traveling…

      • Nate Dollars says:

        “Usually he is the first to get this kind of information”

        i disagree with this, if you’re talking about actually being the first to break news.

        i think ives is rarely the first to break the news, but i know that if i read it here, it’s far more likely to be, you know, true.

  8. kev says:

    “Specifically, the
    defendants, at the behest of Chivas USA’s new sole owner, Jorge Vergara, sought to import and
    implement similar discriminatory employment practices to those practiced by Chivas de Guadalajara
    – a professional Mexican soccer team that systematically refuses to field any non-Mexican
    individuals.”

    That is a great allegation.

    • sandtrout says:

      It is a great allegation, and since this was practically an overt practice, it shouldn’t be that hard to prove. The fact that you retain a white guy or two doesn’t mean you’re not discriminating. This is something some of us have been pointing out for a while only to be told, in essence, it’s all good. The thing is — it isn’t all good. Discrimination is discrimination. Maybe, in a roundabout way, this will bring the resolution of the Chivas USA problem.

      • Kev says:

        I’d imagine the last thing MLS/Chivas would want would be extensive discovery on these issues. I imagine the ex youth coaches will make out very well.

  9. Guest says:

    There is a complete list of all the complaints they had with a court note I saw somewhere on the internet. This incident if everything turns out to be true, which wouldn’t be suprising, this should close the door on the ALL MEXICAN/LATINO club.

  10. Jo says:

    Having data collected to see who can/can’t speak Spanish when it is not a part of your job description doesn’t seem legal. Addressing staff the first time as sole owner and telling them to go work for the Galaxy doesn’t inspire confidence in the owner. This applied to former front office employees too. Even if Hispanic, but not speaking Spanish doomed you

  11. Guest says:

    Same article is on espnfc.com as well. Vergara was also quoted as saying chinese wasn’t a real language on bleacherreport.com. They even sent out forms to be completed by academy players asking for their ethnic backgrounds and their parents ethnicity.

    • Kenny says:

      Well to be fair, “chinese” isn’t a real language. Mandarin or cantonese, on the other hand are real languages and just two that are spoken in China.

  12. ConradB says:

    If everything in this complaint is true, the MLS needs to give this team the boot. Could you imagine the uproar if a team publicly stated the need to get back to their “white roots,” then sent letters out to find ethnic heritage of all the players and parents in the club?

    Racial discrimination has no business in the MLS. I’m disgusted. I hear Orlando might be looking for a team…

    • sandtrout says:

      Good point. If this stuff is true, or mostly true, then it could give MLS a good reason to dump Chivas USA. I’m sure it could be worked out with this as the precipitating act. And there are lots of cities hoping to get MLS next.

    • Iggy says:

      + one. Out with the blatant descrimination and out with chivas.

  13. Brian says:

    I wonder what Don Garber thinks about this. I’ve always wondered why he would be so vocal in his support of Chivas USA’s delibrate effort to limit the pool of players from which to build a team and to market the team to half the local market. And now, an unfortunate bi-product of this approach is an ugly lawsuit.

    Just about anyone in Southern California knows that marketing to the Hispanic demographic is critical to local success but that it need not be done at the expense of the non-Hispanics. Also, the demographic make up of the surrounding area pretty much ensures that the academy and by extension the 1st team will have Hispanic representation.

    • Guest says:

      With the overflowing Hispanic population it pretty much ensures your representation doesn’t mean much. Its all about catering to certain groups and that is wrong.

    • ed - houston says:

      Garber brought this on himself and the league. Calif, for years, has been know for frivolous lawsuits and this sounds like one. Hopefully Garber and MLS do damage control and, for the millionth time, DO SOMETHING with C-USA.

  14. lol says:

    bunch of pU$$ies.

  15. Kev says:

    This is the easiest discrimination case i have ever seen. Not very often are employers open and on the record about the intent to discriminate. Dressing it up as a spanish language requirement won’t save them.

    • sandtrout says:

      Good for the players that there was a witness in the room when they were being told to pack because the club is returning to its roots.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      While you bring up a good point, I have trouble seeing a court give a large settlement to people who were discriminated against for being white.

      If the tables were flipped though…

      • Kev says:

        That’s because you don’t understand the law. 1) courts don’t give settlements. Both sides agree to them. 2) damages for discrimination have nothing to do with what race the defendant is.

  16. bottlcaps says:

    I wonder if coaches aew considered management or employees. If they are management, they might have a semblence of at least settling the case. US labor laws protect employees from discrimination based on race color creed, etc., etc. Firing someone BECAUE he doesn’t speak spanish can only be upheld if it was required under his employment contract. It’s obvious this is not the case because they were hired served for a period of time for Chivas. Vergera, as a Mexican national is not familiar with work rules, but people on his staff and his legal representatives should. I see Vergera backtracking on this whole “back to Mexican roots” thinfg as soon as he realizes hw will lose a labor dispute/unfair firing and have to make a settlement.

    • takethelongview says:

      The alleged discrimination occurred in California. The team must comply with California labor law, which expressly forbids discrimination on account national origin (among other categories). US labor law ALSO applies. The employer is responsible for being compliant with federal law and, where, it is more stringent, with the state law as well.

    • Joe+G says:

      There is little difference between management & employees in this type of case.

  17. DJ says:

    There’s no secret within league circles that Chivas USA discriminates against players and coaches. From a legal standpoint, it’s pretty straightforward. Garber should have told Vergara “Don’t Cross the Line”.

    Too late now.

  18. mouf says:

    you are all MLS fans, none of you do not think Chivas is indeed guilty of this regardless of merit of this case

  19. CW in LA says:

    I sure hope this forces Mr. Garber at long last to realize that the goat clown show is hurting MLS.

    And where was the MLS brass in all this? Most sports league have plenty of lawyers in their management structure. They had to know that, in the very best case, Vergara would be dancing right along the line between what’s legal and what’s not. It sounds like Vergara is being no smarter about this than he’s been about anything else.

  20. Dennis says:

    When I first heard this owner quoted, I thought surely some reporter must have got it wrong and was going for the sensational. Surely no one with enough cash to own an MLS club could be so stupid as to say what he did, surely it must all be sensational journalism.
    O,, but then I thought, Oh yeah some of the richest people in the world are among the biggest bigots in the world, nevermind reporters, continue to shine light on this guy’s bigotry. Lawyers, have at him, he seems to deserve it.

  21. Smith says:

    To say that Chivas is a complete disaster would be an understatement. Time to resell, relocate and rebrand.

  22. Gnarls says:

    Chivas is a failed experiment. Time to pack it in and call it a day.

  23. Herman Gomez says:

    The comments made have merit some don’t. To really find the truth about the comments made by Sr. Bergara would be simple; all you have to do is interview the employees that were in that meeting when Bergara made his irresponsible comments. I know for a fact that he did say;”All you people that can speak Spanish raise your hand about half raised their hands, now all you that can’t raise you your hand ,the other half raised their hands.You people that can only speak english go and work for the Galaxy. Eventually they fired 25 of 30 that worked in ticket sales and some of the key people in sales quit on their own to include a leader with a degree in sports management.All the people that were fired for not being able to speak spanish should join in the law suit,,,,,,,,,,,,,GoGomez

    • Herman Gomez says:

      Regarding Chivas USA; From the very begining Guevara mada a grave mistake purchasing Chivas USA, the team was already sinking. The owner was trying to run the team with family, a grave mistake ,when Guevara took over they were all fired but it was too late the damage had been done.When the people heard that Guevara was now the owner they thought he can’t be as bad as the last owner then they found out that he was worse.Guevara is now trying to sell a sinking ship. Only a miracle will save the Chivas.
      Eh dicho,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Herman Gomez

  24. randy_thompson says:

    Chivas team should be banned after they lose the law suit/