First it was Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers, now it’s the City of Angels other professional basketball team that is under fire for alleged racism.
Fernando González, the Los Angeles Lakers longtime Spanish-language play-by-play radio announcer, alleges that one of the most successful NBA franchises of all-time treated him "differently from and less favorably than his Anglo-American counterparts in terms of wages, hours and conditions of employment," the Los Angeles Times reported.
González is now suing the Lakers and the network he works for, Time Warner Cable, for discrimination and harassment.
Among the charges leveled against the team, González alleges that when the Lakers won the NBA championship in 2000 most staff and broadcasters got a $6,000 commemorative ring, but he and his broadcast partner, Pepe Mantilla, were told they would have to pay $3,000 each for their rings. The problem was only resolved when the late broadcaster Chick Hearn interceded in on their behalf.
The team also purportedly failed the provide season tickets to the Spanish-language broadcast team – a normal measure for in-game broadcasters – gave them reduced travel, limited opportunities with the team's new TV channel and failed to ever set-up a “one-on-one interview with Kobe Bryant."
The 53-year old González was hired by the Lakers in 1996. He was born in Mexico, but is now an American citizen.
González’s complaint stems back to 2011 when the Lakers and Time Warner Cable signed a 20-year, $3 billion deal launching a Spanish-language television network, TWC Deporters. González claims that neither he nor Mantilla were ever considered for new network, and that the two Spanish-language broadcasters who were hired for it were, "less than 40 years old and with no experience in basketball."
"The Lakers' unconscionable refusal constituted additional retaliation against Plaintiff for the exercise of his protected rights, and signaled the Lakers' intention to begin putting Plaintiff out to pasture," claims the lawsuit, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
González plans to seek a judgment of at least $1 million.