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Two tennis umpires file discrimination lawsuit

NEW YORK -- Two tennis umpires have filed a lawsuit alleging
that the sport's international and national governing organizations
discriminated against them after they complained that blacks and
females were not treated fairly on the job.
The lawsuit against the International Tennis Federation and the
U.S. Tennis Association was filed in U.S. District Court in
Brooklyn on Thursday on behalf of Cecil Holland, 47, of Queens, and
Sande French, 47, of Albion, Calif.
According to the lawsuit, Holland and French, who are black, and
other minority umpires have been subjected to racial slurs while
they faced limited opportunities in a hostile work environment.
From 1991 to 2004, Holland chaired more than 1,500 professional
tennis matches, advancing faster than any umpire in history to the
level of "gold badge" status, attained by about 20 to 25 of the
roughly 2,000 umpires worldwide, the lawsuit said.
Still, he was never permitted to sit as a chair umpire at a U.S.
Open Tennis singles finals match and was demoted after he
complained in 1998 that a USTA employee uttered a racial slur.
In an interview, Holland said he found the discrimination
against female umpires particularly disappointing.
"This is like going back to the world when women didn't have
the right to vote," he said. "It's sexism at its best. If women
can officiate in the NBA, where it gets really heated, how can they
not officiate for men in white shorts? I mean it's tennis, it's a
gentlemen's sport."
Since 1986, French has worked as an umpire at thousands of
tennis matches and chaired about 1,500, the lawsuit said.
It said she faced discrimination and retaliation and lost income
and employment opportunities after she complained that women were
not permitted to chair important men's matches and that blacks were
discriminated against.
The lawsuit also alleged that a senior manager in charge of the
officiating program at the ITF was a sexual predator who tried to
coerce his subordinate male employees into sexual relations and
hampered the promotion of women umpires.
Chris Widmaier, a USTA spokesman, said the organization had no
comment on the lawsuit. A recorded message at the ITF said the
office was closed late Friday.