Shout-out to Nathan Koppel at the WSJ Law Blog (or his editor), for coming up with the perfect title for this post: The Frozen One?
Jewish hockey player Jason Bailey is suing the Anaheim Ducks NHL team, alleging that he was subjected to a hostile working environment. Not the run-of-the-mill hostility that comes from playing a sport where people regularly lose their own teeth and then refuse to purchase replacement chompers on the theory that “chicks dig gap teeth and lisps.” No, Bailey claims that the hostility was directed at him because he is Jewish.
I know this comes straight out of “Racial Conspiracy Theories 101,” but I can’t be the only one to notice that this suit was brought against the Anaheim Ducks, a franchise that was once owned by Disney and called the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (because anytime you can buy a hockey team in order to promote a movie staring Emilo Estevez, that’s something you’ve just got to do). And Disney of course has long been suspected of harboring anti-Semitic views. And… you know what, I’ll kick back with a glass of manischewitz and discuss this with my Jewish brothers some other time.
Right now, Bailey is making some much more reasonable allegations against the organization….
The Orange County Register reports that after signing a three-year contract with the Ducks in 2008, Bailey was assigned to the Bakersfield Condors. According to the complaint, that’s where the troubles began:
From the beginning to the end of his time with the Condors, Bailey “was subject to severe and/or pervasive harassment on the basis of religion by being forced to endure a barrage of anti-Semitic, offensive and degrading verbal attacks regarding his Jewish faith” from the Condors’ head coach, the complaint alleges.
The head coach degraded Bailey’s faith and frequently commented about Jews as ones who “only care about money and who’s who,” the complaint goes on to say.
The minor league team’s assistant head coach also harassed Bailey, the complaint alleges, and once approached him in the locker room and, in reference to his own Facebook page, said “oh, I got a friend request from a dirty Jew.”
A quick Google search reveals that Marty Raymond was then and is now the coach of the Bakersfield Condors. The complaint says that Raymond was suspended at the time and made an apology to Bailey. But Bailey claims the team’s actions didn’t go far enough.
It certainly appears that, if the allegations are true, the Condors tried to keep the incident hidden from the press. Here’s a May 2009 Bakersfield Eyewitness News report that seems to be about the incident:
At the end of February of this year, Condors coach Marty Raymond and assistant coach Mark Pederson were suspended in the middle of the hockey season. Raymond was suspended for seven days; Pederson for two weeks. At the time a specific reason was not given for the disciplinary action.
“It was an internal matter, it still is an internal matter,” said Condors Team president Matthew Riley. “We dealt with it, I believe, very appropriately at the time and took action and all parties involved are satisfied with the action that was taken.”
Well, maybe not all the parties were satisfied — nor should they be, if the allegations are true. I imagine it’s hard enough to make it as a minority hockey player without the coach riding you because of your ethnicity. Would it really be so hard for Anaheim to populate its organization with people who are not racists?
Anaheim brass has not responded to the complaint. But Condors president Matt Riley, the guy who was so astute in briefing the press back when coach Raymond was suspended, was reached at the minor-league All Star Game that is being held in Bakersfield. He was as tight-lipped as ever:
Eyewitness News asked Condors president Matthew Riley for a response to the lawsuit.
“I don’t know anything about it, I’m here for the All-Star game, ” said Riley.
Why does Riley remind me of a goalie who has lost his stick?
The Frozen One? Jewish Hockey Player Files Discrimination Suit [WSJ Law Blog]
Jewish player sues Anaheim Ducks, saying he was mistreated [Orange County Register]
Racist comments may have led to Condors coaches’ suspension [Bakersfield Now]