Complaint Calls for Tribunal to Bar Cleveland Indians From Using Name and Logo
Since adopting “Indians” as its nickname ahead of the 1915 season, Cleveland’s baseball team has experienced numerous highs, including two World Series titles, and notable lows, such as their selection as the sad-sack inspiration behind the 1989 film “Major League.” Lately, the club has received enhanced scrutiny over its Chief Wahoo logo, which it has recognized as a possibly culturally insensitive symbol. That emblem and the squad’s moniker last fall became particular pests for architect Douglas Cardinal, and Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is acknowledging the Canada-based innovator’s gripes and contention that the duo violates provincial and national human rights legislation.
The entity is considering hearing a complaint that names the Indians, the reigning American League pennant holder; Major League Baseball; and Rogers Communication, the franchise’s owner. Holding Native American ancestry, Cardinal contends that viewing last year’s championship series between the Ohio unit and the Blue Jays presented “an affront to his dignity” and that experiencing such discomfort denied him a service.
Holding that Rogers discriminated against him because of his “ancestry, colour, and ethnic origin,” the award-winning individual feels the overseer committed a punishable faux pas and is hoping a legislative body will bar Cleveland from using its team name and donning the frustration-inducing logo when playing in Toronto. This marks the second time that a governing aid has granted Cardinal consideration, as the Canadian Human Rights Commission handled his initial federally-filed grievance. Resolution of that matter will determine when the tribunal might debate the new complaint, with adjudicator Jo-Anne Pickel adding that she and her peers must gather more evidence on whether competition within Toronto’s Rogers Centre meets “service” classification.
She, despite opposition from the trio of named parties, who stated the complaint should end up rejected for many reasons, including lack of jurisdiction, offered that the new objection stands apart from the original, noting that playing baseball games at the stadium, which, as SkyDome, hosted its first contest 28 years ago yesterday, falls under provincial jurisdiction.
“The precise role of each respondent with respect to the holding of baseball games in Ontario is unclear and therefore their connection to the alleged discriminatory service is also not clear,” Pickel said of the situation, which the Indians, who have already concluded their single regular season trip to Toronto, explained, in part, by saying they do not provide services in Ontario’s provincial capital city, as they do not sell tickets and simply go where the schedule dictates. “In my view, in the circumstances of this case, a full evidentiary record is necessary to determine whether baseball games taking place at the Rogers Centre are services within the meaning of the [Human Rights] Code. Just as importantly, if they are services, a full evidentiary record is required to determine which of the respondents would be liable if I were to find discrimination in the provision of these services.”
Cardinal’s matter, which Rogers and MLB argued should receive only federal attention with respect to broadcasting and trademark issues, and which the former tabbed “an abuse of process” because of the involvement of the tribunal, too, makes for an interesting discussion. The Indians have long faced backlash over their name, but this complaint does not desire to have the identifier totally altered, requesting only that the organization drop it when visiting the Blue Jays. What are your thoughts? Are Cardinal’s qualms strong enough to intensify the overall campaign to rename Cleveland’s MLB representative?