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Former scouts accuse MLB clubs of age discrimination

Even a highly visible operation like Major League Baseball (MLB) doesn’t appear immune from employment discrimination. In late June 2023, 17 former MLB scouts over age 55 filed a discrimination lawsuit against their former employer, alleging age discrimination. Although Idaho doesn’t have professional sports teams in the major leagues, scouts frequently visit high school and college teams in the state.

Lawsuit alleges commissioner ordered firings

MLB shut down its centralized scouting bureau in March 2018, with the commissioner ordering the firing of all remaining older scouts, a move that is illegal under employment law. The move was part of the ‘One Baseball’ initiative, coinciding with a statistically oriented approach by baseball clubs, with analytics and video scouting as the primary focus of scouts. The lawsuit also alleges that as part of that reform, MLB began to heavily recruit younger scouts with the intention of pushing out the older ones.

Instead of using federally backed programs to help mitigate the financial burden of hiring or keeping older scouts on staff, many clubs used non-renewals of contracts and similar measures to force them out. When these scouts tried to apply for positions at other major league clubs, they frequently heard clubs couldn’t afford them. At the same time, many baseball teams hired inexperienced scouts under age 40. The plaintiffs claim that MLB violated their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and have asked for front and back pay as part of their compensation.

Discrimination claims are widespread

Although the professional scouts’ claims may appear unusual at first glance, age discrimination in various industries is widespread. Even if older workers aren’t fired from their jobs, employers can create a hostile environment in multiple ways, resulting in workers hating their jobs so much that they will leave. Experiencing a culture that values the efforts of younger workers over older ones can be a cue that age discrimination is occurring.

If you feel that your employer is discriminating against you through words or actions, you may have a case against them. Keeping a thorough record of events can help you support your claim.