SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Jewish hockey player has sued the Anaheim Ducks and a minor league affiliate alleging his coaches made anti-Semitic remarks and discriminated against him because of his religion.
Jason Bailey, 23, who has since been traded to the Ottawa Senators, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court.
It alleges that coaches for the Bakersfield Condors, then an ECHL affiliate of the Ducks, repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks and denied Bailey ice time because he was Jewish.
“Based on his religion, he was blackballed,” said Keith Fink, Bailey’s lawyer. “They wouldn’t skate him. They wouldn’t play him.”
Alex Gilchrist, a spokesman for the Ducks, declined to comment on the suit. A message seeking comment was left for the Condors.
Bailey was assigned to play for the Condors under the three-year contract he signed with the Ducks in 2008.
In the lawsuit, Bailey alleges that both Condors’ assistant head coach Mark Pederson and head coach Martin Raymond made anti-Semitic remarks.
Bailey said he was rarely given ice time, even though he was one of the team’s best players, which hurt his chances of getting the experience he needed to advance his career.
After Bailey complained to management, he was sent to the Iowa Chops, where he didn’t play either, according to a copy of the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that Ducks officials downplayed the allegations and had the Condors coaches write apology letters.
In 2009, Bailey asked to be traded and went to the Senators, Fink said. The 23-year-old now plays for their affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y.
A message was left for Raymond. It was not immediately possible to reach Pederson, who no longer works for the team.
Both coaches were suspended in 2009. The Bakersfield Californian reported that the reason was related to Bailey.
Reports of anti-semitism aren’t new to the world of sports. Athletes often told of hearing anti-Semitic slurs before World War II, and in the decade thereafter, said Joe Siegman, former chairman of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
While anti-Semitic comments may be heard on the fields or courts today, especially on a local level, reports of discrimination in U.S. professional sports are rare, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“Players are reluctant to complain, because once they do, they destroy their chances of being picked up or playing,” Foxman said. “I am sure it is there, but not at a level we know about.”