Jason Bailey Alleges Anti-Semitism in Lawsuit Against Anaheim Ducks
Bailey, 23, claims that while he was a member of the Bakersfield (Calif.) Condors of the ECHL from 2007 through 2009 he was targeted because of his Jewish faith by head coach Marty Raymond and then-assistant coach Mark Pederson. The complaint obtained by FanHouse alleged many graphic examples.
The lawsuit -- which was filed a few miles away from the Ducks' home arena in Santa Ana, Calif. -- claims Raymond said Jews "only care about money and who's who" and he didn't want his son, whose mother is Jewish, "to be raised Jewish or to wear a Yarmulke." Pederson, a former NHL player who was not brought back to the Condors after the 2008-09 season for budgetary reasons, was allegedly even more forceful.
After Bailey sent a friend request to Pederson on Facebook, Pederson allegedly replied, "Oh, I got a friend request from a dirty Jew." When the team was putting money together for a party, the lawsuit claims Pederson said, "Well, I don't know if we can trust him with the money. He's Jewish."
"It doesn't shock me this occurred," Keith Fink, Bailey's well-respected employment lawyer based in Los Angeles, told FanHouse. "What shocks me is the callous indifference that management and ownership showed when confronted with this situation. They knew what the coaches did was wrong, but they failed to stand up and do the right thing for Bailey and his family."
Ducks spokesman, Alex Gilchrist, said in an e-mail the team had no comment on the lawsuit. Messages left with the Condors were not immediately returned.
Bailey had until March to file the lawsuit, which was first reported by TMZ.com. The filing, however, coincides with Wednesday's ECHL All-Star game in Bakesfield.
Raymond, Pederson and the Condors were listed as co-defendants. The civil suit seeks unspecified damages and Fink requested a jury trial on behalf of his client.
Bailey first voiced his concerns to the team's coaching staff, management and team owner Jonathan Fleisig, which the lawsuit claims resulted in his benching and --- after a two-game stint up with the Iowa Chops of the AHL -- the Condors threatened to send him to a lower league.
That prompted Bailey seek out David McNab, the Ducks' senior vice president of hockey operations.
"They were completely unresponsive," Fink said. "Jason didn't want to get a lawyer involved. He wanted the Ducks to remedy the situation. He was in a tough situation. He tried to grin and bear it, but it got to a breaking point."
Both coaches were suspended in February 2009. The team said Raymond (one-week suspension) and Pederson (two weeks) were suspended for violating team policy and called it an internal matter.
The main reason behind the lawsuit, which follows a complaint filed with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, was the Ducks lack of action overall and the fact that Raymond's contract with the Condors was extended, according to Fink.
"The kid is not looking for money," Fink said. "What upside does this have? He plays in a fish bowl. There'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 type of case)."
Both Pederson and Raymond wrote letters of apologies at the time of suspension. Raymond said "it was not my intent to offend you" and his "intent was to have a jovial moment" and he had faced similar bigotry as a French-Canadian. Pederson wrote that he had "learned and became a better person."
The letters, according to the lawsuit, claimed that both coaches "downplayed the entire affair as a joke."
Bailey was granted a trade following the 2008-09 season and the winger currently plays for the Binghamton Senators, the Ottawa Senators' AHL affiliate.