Ex-Umpire Sues MLB for Discrimination, Unlawful Termination Amidst Diversity Quota Claims


In a frantic swirl of allegations against Major League Baseball, Brandon Cooper— a former minor league umpire—launched a federal lawsuit on Wednesday. He orchestrated his legal battle from a Manhattan courtroom, setting his sights on both the MLB and its associated company, PDL Blue Inc.

Cooper, who had once marked his presence in the minor league Arizona Complex League, now claims his career was unduly terminated due to his bisexuality and his stand against sexual harassment by a female umpire.

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Among the significant points illuminated in his lawsuit, Cooper cast light upon a profound problem within the establishment of baseball. He pointed out that the sport has traditionally been dominated by a homogenous group of umpires, primarily consisting of Caucasian men. He further shed light on the fact that no woman has yet officiated a regular season game in the primary leagues.

As accusations tumbled forth, Cooper took aim at the MLB’s affirmative action policy. He observed that the MLB had established an unlawful diversity quota in a bid to remedy their gender and racial uniformity problem. The rule, he claims, promotes women with no regard for merit.

Stepping back in time, Cooper’s suit unveiled that he had participated in umpire training camps in 2022 and 2023. He was candidly informed at the commencement of 2023 by Ed Rapuano, a former umpire turned evaluator, and Darren Spagnardi, an umpire development supervisor, that the MLB was committed to including a minimum of two women in every ten documented hires.

Spring of 2023 saw Cooper invited to spring training, selected for a taxi squad, and promptly notified by Dusty Dellinger, senior manager of umpire administration, about the non-negotiable hiring of women and minority candidates before consideration of other applicants. Cooper further asserted that he was appointed to the ACL in late March and received strong appraisals by Jim Reynolds, an umpire supervisor, and former big league umpire in June.

Things reportedly took a turn for the worse when Gina Quartararo, who was also affiliated with the ACL and has since joined the Florida State League, discovered that Cooper identified as bisexual. Cooper suggests that he was subjected to homophobic slurs and offensive comments, lodged by Quartararo and aimed at both himself and fellow umpire Kevin Bruno.

Further to these allegations, Cooper described how he brought this issue to the attention of Dellinger. The MLB responded by mandating sensitivity training for him and hinting at a violation of minor league anti-discrimination and harassment policies.

The suit also described a meeting with Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. According to Cooper, Bean presented Quartararo as the real victim in the situation, being the single female umpire in the ACL. Undeterred, Cooper defended himself, claiming there was video evidence supporting Quartararo’s alleged misconduct, involving unbecoming physical actions.

Cooper’s legal charge against the MLB ended on an equally sour note; he described being passed up for playoffs, followed by dismissal from his position in October. Cooper compared himself to the other 26 umpires who were selected with him, asserting that he was the only one dismissed.

The gist of his argument towards his former employers revolves around allegations of fostering a hostile work environment and executing an unlawful termination and possible retaliation against him due to his sexual orientation. Considering that the MLB headquarters stand proudly on the grounds of New York, his case also cites violation of New York state and city law.

Promptly denying to comment on any ongoing litigation, the MLB has left these serious allegations unanswered. Their spokesperson, Michael Teevan, further added that they were working towards soliciting Quartararo’s responses to these accusations. Quartararo is recognized as one of the nine female umpires officiating in the minor league this season.

Meanwhile, Jen Pawol has paved the way for women in baseball, being named the first woman to umpire major league spring training since 2007 and is currently stationed at Triple-A, just a notch below the majors.