USA cricket – Terminated contractor files case against USA Cricket for ‘racial discrimination’

In the midst of a protracted legal battle regarding the delayed general elections from 2020, USA Cricket now has a second lawsuit on its hands after Kirk Greaves, who was terminated from an independent-contractor role early last month, filed legal action in the US Federal Court against the national governing body claiming “racial discrimination in employment”.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Greaves on April 28 in the Northern District of California (USA Cricket is headquartered in San Francisco) is seeking a total of $2 million dollars in damages: $150,000 in economic damages owing to lost future wages; $350,000 in non-economic damages for “psychological stress and humiliation”; and $1.5 million in punitive damages.

“USA Cricket is aware of various details of a lawsuit being brought by a former contractor against USA Cricket,” a USA Cricket spokesperson said to ESPNcricinfo in an emailed statement. “The individual is one of a number of contractors previously engaged by USA Cricket whose contracts were recently not renewed. All allegations in the lawsuit are entirely false and without merit, and USA Cricket denies and will aggressively defend against them. The matter is currently in the hands of USA Cricket’s lawyers. We look forward to the case being dismissed in due course and will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Prior to working for USA Cricket, Greaves, a native of Barbados, worked as Team Operations Manager for Barbados Tridents for three seasons in the Caribbean Premier League from 2016 to 2018. He was also appointed as Tournament Operations Manager for the Global T20 Canada when it launched in 2018 and worked in an operations role for Rajasthan Royals during the 2019 IPL. According to the lawsuit, Greaves claims he was brought on board by USA Cricket as an independent contractor for a four-month probationary period as a Cricket Operations Manager beginning in March 2021 at an initial wage of $5,000 per month and tasked with executing four domestic cricket tournaments.

Greaves claims a verbal agreement was in place with then board CEO Iain Higgins to give him an offer of full-time employment, contingent upon the successful completion of the four domestic tournaments. However, Greaves was never subsequently presented with a full-time job offer and claims that the budget which was allegedly allocated for the role was instead repackaged as an increased salary offer to a white employee.

Among other allegations, Greaves states that he was subjected to a “toxic work environment, unfair employment practices, wage disparity and discrimination”. Greaves claims that he was the only black staff member and also the only American citizen on staff and, as such, he was “hired to diversify the management of USA Cricket. It would appear that only the Australians, Indians, New Zealanders and other non-Americans have benefitted from the USA Cricket brand”.

Though their employment status is not considered full-time, USA Cricket currently has three other black men – who are all American citizens – serving in staff leadership roles affiliated with its national teams: John Aaron as USA Women’s national team manager, Kerk Higgins as USA men’s national team manager, and Kevin Darlington in the dual role of USA men’s assistant coach and USA U-19 men’s head coach.

Greaves also claims in the suit that he suffered humiliation after having his role reclassified from “Cricket Operations Manager” to “Events Manager”, and that the renaming of his role resulted in “eliminating any element of black representation at the senior management level”, something he claims “was racially orchestrated and violated US law”. Greaves also writes that his job status was that of a permanent employee but claims that classifying him as an independent contractor “demonstrates bad faith and is a contravention of US labour laws”.

On March 28, a letter was sent by USA Cricket Operations Director Richard Done to Greaves notifying him that his independent contractor agreement – which had been $6,500 for the final five months, an increase of $1,500 above his original – was being terminated as of April 8, “pursuant to the decision of the Cricket Committee”. However, Greaves claims that he received an email disputing this from USA Cricket board member Srini Salver. In the email, which is attached in an exhibit as part of the lawsuit filing, Salver writes to Greaves that “your termination was never recommended by the Cricket Committee” in any board meeting but was instead discussed during a conversation about budgets.

“The budget isn’t approved, nor are the terminations,” Salver allegedly wrote to Greaves. Salver is one of the two board member plaintiffs, along with Venu Pisike, in the ongoing legal action filed against five other USA board members and then USA Cricket CEO Iain Higgins over the legality of new members being allowed voting status in the case about the delayed elections from 2020.

A court hearing date for the Greaves lawsuit has been set for August 2.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna

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