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Ex-minor league umpire sues MLB, says he was harassed by female ump, fired for being bisexual man


NEW YORK — A fired minor league umpire sued Major League Baseball on Wednesday, claiming he was sexually harassed by a female umpire and discriminated against because he is male and bisexual.

Brandon Cooper, an umpire who worked in the minor league Arizona Complex League last year, filed the suit in federal court in Manhattan against MLB and PDL Blue Inc., an affiliated entity.

“Historically the MLB has had a homogenous roster of umpires working in both the minor and major leagues,” the suit claimed. “Specifically, to date there has never been a woman who has worked in a (regular) season game played in the majors, and most umpires are still Caucasian men. To try to fix its gender and racial diversity issue, defendants have implemented an illegal diversity quota requiring that women be promoted regardless of merit.”

Cooper’s suit says he attended umpire training camps in 2022 and ’23 and was told by former umpire Ed Rapuano, now an umpire evaluator, and Darren Spagnardi, an umpire development supervisor, in January 2023 that MLB had to include at least two women among 10 new hires.

Cooper says he was invited to spring training in 2023, put on a taxi squad and informed by Dusty Dellinger, senior manager of umpire administration, that women and minority candidates had to be hired first. Cooper was assigned to the ACL in late March and said he received a high rating in June from former big league umpire Jim Reynolds, now an umpire supervisor.

Cooper alleged fellow umpire Gina Quartararo, then in the ACL and now in the Florida State League, learned that Cooper was bisexual and derided him and fellow umpire Kevin Bruno with homophobic slurs and crude remarks. Cooper said he notified Dellinger, then was told by MLB he had to undergo sensitivity training and later that he was being accused of violating the minor league anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, met with Cooper, the lawsuit said, and informed the umpire that Quartararo claimed she was victimized as the only female umpire in the ACL. Cooper said he told Bean there was video evidence of Quartararo’s alleged misconduct, which included physical action.

Cooper said he was skipped for the playoffs and fired in October, and he claimed he was the only one let go from among 26 umpires in the group that was hired.

He alleged a hostile work environment and wrongful termination and/or retaliation because of gender and sexual orientation under New York state and city law. MLB is based in New York.

MLB declined to comment on pending litigation, according to spokesman Michael Teevan, and also said it was attempting to contact Quartararo to check if she wanted to comment. Quartararo was among nine women who are working as minor league umpires this season.

Jen Pawol this year became the first woman to umpire major league spring training since 2007 and is working at Triple-A, one level below the majors. She is in position to be a vacation/injury replacement callup to the big leagues.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb



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