Major League Baseball is being sued by a former umpire who says he was fired after raising complaints about homophobic harassment. | Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

A former Minor League Baseball umpire is suing Major League Baseball in federal court, alleging he was fired as a retaliatory action after he accused a fellow female umpire of harassing him and using homophobic slurs.

Brandon Cooper’s dream of becoming a Major League Baseball umpire “quickly became a nightmare when Mr. Cooper was repeatedly subjected to dehumanizing homophobic slurs such as, ‘faggot,’ ‘don’t be a bitch’ and ‘gay,’ and then ultimately terminated by the League because of his gender and sexual orientation,” according to a suit filed in federal district court in New York on Wednesday.

Cooper, who identifies as bisexual, is seeking unspecified monetary damages, including loss of income, after being fired last fall. The suit is alleging violations of anti-sexual harassment, hostile work environment, anti-gender discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law.

Cooper’s attorneys told Outsports they did not seek a settlement with MLB before filing their lawsuit.

MLB declined to comment “due to pending litigation.”

The crux of the complaint alleges that fellow Minor League umpire Gina Quartararo regularly used homophobic slurs against Cooper and one time physically shoved him, and that when he complained to Major League Baseball officials, his concerns were ignored and he was fired. Quartararo and Cooper were on the same umpiring crew in spring training 2023 at a time they were being evaluated for possible promotion to Major League Baseball.

Brandon Cooper is suing MLB over his firing.

“I wanted my umpiring and ability to speak for itself and not to be labeled as Brandon Cooper the bisexual umpire,” he told Outsports about his resistance to being outed. “I didn’t want to be labeled as something. It has been a passion of mine to simply make it to the Major Leagues.”

Cooper said he’s a private person, and that he wanted to make sure his officiating was judged on its own merits and without bias.

“When people heard my name I wanted them to think, ‘Oh that’s Brandon Cooper, he’s a good umpire,’ and not ‘he’s a bisexual umpire.’ It is a scary thing to come out and tell people. I live a very private life. I don’t do social media. I keep my life private with my family and friends.”

The suit alleges that Major League Baseball has an “unlawful diversity quota” that favors women and that Quartararo bragged that she was immune from any discipline because MLB is under pressure to hire its first woman umpire. Quartararo is not a party in the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Quartararo made claims to him and the other umpires on her crew such as, “I’m a woman and can get away with anything” and that “MLB has to hire females, they won’t get rid of me unless I quit,” “I can have sex with any of you and nothing would happen,” and that “I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame as the first female in the MLB.”

In the suit, Cooper claims to have videos, texts and emails to support his claims of harassment. Cooper regularly received high marks as an umpire in performance reviews, the suit says. “By all accounts, Plaintiff was on his way to successfully making it in the MLB based on his merits,” the suit says of Cooper.

Cooper alleges that when he took his harassment complaints to human resources, he was the one disciplined and ordered to undergo sensitivity training.

Cooper’s complaint made its way to Billy Bean, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion who is an out gay former player. He claims that Bean told Cooper that Quartararo accused the umpire of being “mean” and discriminating against her for her gender, charges Cooper told Bean were false.

“Despite providing witnesses and informing him that he and others had documentation, Bean never requested Mr. Cooper’s documentation and failed to interview any of Mr. Cooper’s witnesses or collect their documentation of [Quartararo’s] conduct,” the suit alleges. “Instead, when informed that there was video documentation, that [Quartararo] had threatened to get Mr. Cooper terminated, and that [Quartararo] believed she was untouchable because of her gender, Bean simply instructed Mr. Cooper to hold onto to his video recordings.”

Cooper told Outsports that he felt Bean didn’t give his complaints their deserved attention.

“It feels bad when you’re fired. Was it taken seriously? Probably not,” Cooper said.

The suit says that Cooper will amend his discrimination complaint under the federal Civil Rights Act once the proper paperwork has been filed.

“This lawsuit should serve as a wake-up call to Major League Baseball and the sports industry at large, reminding them that inclusion and respect are not optional, but fundamental principles that must be upheld without compromise,” said Bennitta Joseph, senior partner at Joseph & Norinsberg. “Mr. Cooper’s courageous stand against discrimination will pave the way for a more equitable and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals in professional sports.”

The suit, Brandon Cooper vs. The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, was filed in U.S. District Court, Southern Section of New York. Civil case No. 24-cv-3118.