A Hockey Player Fights Back (Imagine That)
With only five Jewish players currently in the National Hockey League (“NHL”), an anti-Semitism lawsuit against an NHL franchise seems like an incredibly unlikely occurrence. At least I’m sure that’s what the Anaheim Ducks are currently thinking. Last Tuesday, one of Anaheim’s former players, Jason Bailey, filed a lawsuit against the franchise in the Orange County Superior Court alleging just that.
Bailey, who formerly played for the Ducks’ ECHL minor league affiliate team, the Bakersfield Condors, alleges in the suit that he was subjected to systemic and repeated abuse while with the team because of his Jewish faith. Specifically, he claims that Bakersfield head coach Martin Raymond and then assistant coach Mark Pederson repeatedly directed anti-Semitic remarks towards him and more broadly discriminated against him as a player by refusing to provide him with the proper amount of playing and practice time for him to develop. (Examples of the coaches’ remarks may be found here.)
These allegations should likely come as no surprise to the Ducks’ organization. For instance, the Condors’ owner, Jonathan Fleisig, was well aware of the coaches’ behavior and on one occasion even went as far as to suspend both Raymond and Pederson. Suspensions which ultimately resulted in both coaches writing a personal apology letter to Bailey. Furthermore, in another incident which should have likely caught the Ducks’ attention, Bailey filed a complaint early last year with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. An event which, as Scott Burnside of ESPN mentions, is typically a precursor to filing a civil lawsuit.
It will be interesting to see how the Ducks resolve this matter.
Personally, I applaud Bailey’s decision to file this suit. As his attorney said, “[t]here’s only one major professional ice hockey league, so there’s no incentive for him to come forward. This is not going to advance his career. It takes a strong, confident person [to pursue this].”
Even if Bailey never steps on the ice at the NHL level, at least he’ll know that he stayed true to his principles and stood up for himself.