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POSTEMA v. NATIONAL LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBAL

July 16, 1992

PAMELA A. POSTEMA, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CLUBS, AMERICAN LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CLUBS, TRIPLE-A ALLIANCE OF PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL CLUBS, and BASEBALL OFFICE OF UMPIRE DEVELOPMENT, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT P. PATTERSON, JR.

 ROBERT P. PATTERSON, JR., U.S.D.J.

 This is an action for damages and injunctive relief alleging employment discrimination in violation of: (1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1); (2) New York's Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. L. § 296; and (3) the common law of restraint of trade.

 Defendant American League of Professional Baseball Clubs ("American League") moves: (a) pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Title VII claim, or in the alternative, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for dismissal of Plaintiff's request for a jury trial and prayer for compensatory and punitive damages; (b) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for dismissal of Plaintiff's Human Rights Law claim, or in the alternative, dismissal of Plaintiff's request for a jury trial and prayer for punitive damages; and (c) pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for dismissal of Plaintiff's common law restraint of trade claim.

 Defendants National League of Professional Baseball Clubs ("National League"), Triple-A Alliance of Professional Baseball Clubs ("Triple-A"), and the Baseball Office for Umpire Development ("BOUD") join in parts (b) and (c) of the American League's motion.

 For the reasons set forth below, the motions are granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND

 For her complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following.

 I. THE PARTIES

 Plaintiff Pamela Postema, a California resident, is a former professional baseball umpire.

 Defendant National League is an unincorporated association of professional baseball clubs that constitute the National League, one of the two major leagues of professional baseball. The National League has its principal place of business and headquarters in New York City.

 Defendant American League is an unincorporated association of professional baseball clubs that constitute the American League, the other major league of professional baseball. The American League also has its principal place of business and headquarters in New York City.

 Defendant Triple-A is an unincorporated association of minor league professional baseball clubs that constitute and operate the Triple-A Alliance minor league. Triple-A consists of AAA-rated *fn1" baseball clubs that were formerly members of two separate AAA minor leagues, the American Association and the International League. Triple-A has its principal place of business and headquarters in Grove City, Ohio.

 Triple-A and the other minor leagues of professional baseball are members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the "National Association"), an unincorporated association of minor leagues in the United States. The National Association, which is not a party to this action, has its principal place of business in New York City. The National League, American League, and the National Association are all subject to the common oversight and direction of the Commissioner of Baseball.

 Defendant BOUD is an unincorporated affiliate of the other Defendants and of the National Association. Its principal place of business and headquarters is in St. Petersburg, Florida. BOUD is vested with responsibility for finding, evaluating, overseeing, training, developing, and supervising umpires for professional baseball games played by members of the National Association.

 II. EVENTS UNDERLYING THIS LAWSUIT

 After graduating from umpiring school with the rank of 17th in a class of 130 students, Plaintiff began work in 1977 as a professional baseball umpire in the Gulf Coast League, a rookie league. At that time, she was the fourth woman ever to umpire a professional baseball game. Plaintiff worked in the Gulf Coast League during 1977 and 1978. In 1979, she was promoted to the Class A Florida State League, where she umpired during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. In 1981, Plaintiff was promoted to the AA Texas League, and she umpired there in 1981 and 1982. She was the first woman to ever umpire a professional baseball game above the Class A level.

 In 1983, Plaintiff was promoted to the AAA Pacific Coast League, where she umpired from 1983 to 1986. In 1987, her contract was acquired by Triple-A, and she umpired in that league from 1987 until her discharge in 1989.

 Plaintiff alleges that during her employment as a Triple-A umpire, Defendants conferred on her significant duties and responsibilities, including the following:

 * In 1987, Plaintiff was the home plate umpire for the Hall of Fame exhibition game between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves.

 * In 1988, Plaintiff was selected to umpire the Venezuela All Star game.

 * In 1988 and 1989, Plaintiff was the chief of her umpiring crew, with ultimate responsibility for its umpiring calls and performance.

 * In 1988 and 1989, Plaintiff was appointed to umpire major league spring training games.

 * In 1989, Plaintiff was the home plate umpire for the first Triple-A Minor League All Star Game.

 * In 1989, Plaintiff was asked by Triple-A to become a supervisor for umpires in the minor league system.

 * From 1987 to 1989, Plaintiff received high praise from qualified and experienced baseball people, including Chuck Tanner, Tom Trebelhorn, Hal Lanier, and Roger Craig, all current or former managers of major league teams.

 Notwithstanding these responsibilities and honors, Plaintiff alleges that throughout her career as a minor league umpire she was subjected to continual, repeated, and offensive acts of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Such acts included the following:

 * On numerous occasions, players and managers addressed her with a four-letter word beginning with the letter "c" that refers to female genitalia.

 * Players and managers repeatedly told Plaintiff that her proper role was cooking, cleaning, keeping house, or some other form of "women's work," rather than umpiring.

 * Bob Knepper, a pitcher with the Houston Astros, told the press that although Plaintiff was a good umpire, to have her as a major league umpire would be an affront to God and contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

 * During arguments with players and managers, Plaintiff was spat upon and was subjected to verbal and physical abuse to a greater degree than male umpires.

 * In 1987, the manager of the Nashville Hounds kissed Plaintiff on the lips when he handed her his lineup card.

 * Although Plaintiff was well known throughout baseball as an excellent ball and strike umpire, she was directed and required by Ed Vargo, the Supervisor of Umpiring for the National League, to change her stance and technique to resemble those used by him during his career. No such requirement was placed on male umpires.

 Plaintiff continually took action against such conduct through warnings, ejections, and reports. Although the existence of such conduct was well known throughout baseball, no one in a position of authority, including Defendants, took action to correct, stop, or prevent such conduct.

 Plaintiff alleges that at the time she began her service with Triple-A, she was fully qualified to be a major league umpire, and she had repeatedly made known to Defendants her desire for employment in the major leagues. While she was not promoted to or hired by the National League or American League, male umpires having inferior experience, qualifications, and abilities were repeatedly and frequently promoted and hired by the National and American Leagues.

 Plaintiff alleges that in 1988 and 1989, "events came to a head" in her effort to become a major league umpire. Specifically, in July 1987, Dick Butler, then Special Assistant to the President of the American League and the former supervisor of umpires for the American League, told Newsday that for Plaintiff to become a major league umpire:

 
She realizes that she has to be better than the fellow next to her. She's got to be better because of the fact that she's a girl. I'm not saying it's fair, but it exists and she's not going to change it.

 These comments were widely reported in the media, including in the Los Angeles Times. Defendants neither issued any statements contradicting, retracting, or correcting Butler's statements, took any remedial or disciplinary action with respect to Butler, nor otherwise said or did anything to communicate that Butler ...


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