Umpire Angel Hernandez made a bevy of allegations against Major League Baseball and executive Joe Torre in a previously sealed list of items he’s sought permission to speak about related to his federal racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the league two years ago.
The list was made public in a filing by his attorney in U.S District Court for the Central District of New York on Tuesday. Among the 27 items Hernandez asked permission to speak about without retaliation included allegations that “MLB has made professional life even harder for minorities in baseball” since Torre was hired as an executive vice president in 2010 after his long tenure as manager of the New York Yankees.
“Media accounts have sometimes portrayed Angel’s complaint in the lawsuit as reflecting something personal against Joe Torre: that is not accurate; the complaint simply points out Torre’s role as one of the leaders of baseball who is not doing enough to eliminate racial, ethnic and gender discrimination in the game,” Hernandez’s attorney, Kevin L. Murphy, wrote in the filing.
Murphy’s motion for a declaratory judgement seeks a judge to approve the list of topics that Hernandez wants to address “without fear of employment retaliation.”
Neil H. Abramson, one of MLB’s outside attorneys in the case, disputed Hernandez’s allegations in a response filed on Wednesday.
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Abramson wrote that Hernandez’s “allegation that they have engaged in any discriminatory conduct as unsupported by the evidence, because any actions or decisions with respect to Plaintiff’s employment were taken or made in good faith and were based on legitimate, business-related reasons and not on any protected characteristic.”
Among the other notable items on Hernandez’s list:
4. MLB treats African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and other people of color as competent to play the game based on their athletic ability, but MLB does not do nearly enough to promote African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and other people of color to positions of leadership.
15. For many years, minority umpires, including Laz Diaz, Alfonso Marquez and Kerwin Danley and Angel himself have been excluded from positions as umpire crew chiefs by MLB.
17. Minority umpires with qualifications equal to or greater than those of white applicants have been systematically passed over for promotions to crew chief in favor of white applicants.
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18. When minority umpires have applied for crew chief positions, MLB has even actively solicited a white applicant, telling him that he needed to apply, and then awarding the white applicant the promotion.
Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, claimed in the lawsuit originally filed in Cincinnati in July 2017 that he was continually passed over for promotion because of his ethnicity. The case was later moved to New York, where MLB is headquartered. Hernandez also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017.
The lawsuit – which lists MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB as defendants – seeks back pay and unspecified compensatory damages.
MLB declined comment when reached by USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
In MLB’s response on Wednesday, Abramson wrote MLB officials “have never retaliated against Plaintiff or threatened to retaliate against” Hernandez for speaking out about his concerns raised in either his lawsuit or EEOC complaint.
The response, however, stated Hernandez does not have “unlimited right to public speech concerning MLB” because he’s bound by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the World Umpires Association. Abramson added that CBA is not “intended to prevent an umpire from exercising whatever rights such umpire may have under the National Labor Relations Act or under any federal, state or local law prohibiting discrimination in employment.”