A former clubhouse attendant has brought a discrimination lawsuit against the Detroit Tigers and former pitching coach Chris Bosio.
In a complaint filed this week in Wayne County Circuit Court, Derrell Coleman II, who is black, accuses Tigers management of tolerating "a culture of racism" and says Bosio called him a "monkey" in June of 2018. Bosio was fired around that time.
The suit says the 22-year-old Coleman has experienced mental anguish and emotional distress.
"When this allegation was first brought to the attention of club management, we took swift and immediate action," the Tigers said in a statement Friday. "We strongly refute the allegations against our organization made in Thursday's filing. We hold all of our personnel to the highest standards of personal conduct both on and off the field, and we have a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior and workplace harassment."
The Tigers announced on June 27 last year that Bosio was being fired for "insensitive comments" that violated team policy. Bosio later told USA Today he was fired for using the word "monkey" but insisted it wasn't in a racial or demeaning context. Bosio said he used the word while talking about pitcher Daniel Stumpf, who is white. Bosio said Stumpf was nicknamed "Spider Monkey" because of the faces he would make while lifting weights.
According to the lawsuit, on June 25, 2018, Bosio and bullpen catcher John Murrian were involved in a conversation when Bosio saw Coleman and said: "he was a dead brained idiot — like this monkey here."
The lawsuit also accuses Bosio of additional hostile actions.
The suit also claims "African American employees were treated differently than their similarly situated white counterparts." The suit says Coleman was suspended two weeks "allegedly for leaving a player's bats at his locker."
"Plaintiff Coleman is unaware of any similarly situated white clubhouse attendant being suspended for a similar mistake," the suit said.
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