The NBA on Tuesday announced a one-year suspension and $10 million fine of Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver following a lengthy independent investigation into workplace misconduct allegations.
Sarver will work with the NBA to appoint an interim governor to oversee the Suns in his absence, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reports.
The league launched the investigation into Sarver following a November 2021 article published by Holmes, whose interviews with more than 70 current and former Suns employees revealed a history of alleged “racially insensitive language,” “misogynistic” behavior and other hostile workplace misconduct.
The law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz was commissioned to conduct the investigation. Led by partners David Anders and Sarah Eddy, the investigation featured 320 interviews and the review of more than 80,000 “documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos.” The firm’s findings formulated a 43-page report that was made public in coordination with the NBA’s news release.
The investigation revealed the following key findings, as laid out in the report:
- Sarver said the N-word at least five times in repeating or purporting to repeat what a Black person said — four of those after being told by Black and white subordinates that he should not use the word, even in repetition of another.
- Sarver used language and engaged in conduct demeaning of female employees. Among other examples, he told a pregnant employee that she would be unable to do her job upon becoming a mother; berated a female employee in front of others and then commented that women cry too much; and arranged an all-female lunch so that female employees at Western Alliance Bank, where at the time he was CEO, could explain to female Suns employees how to handle his demands.
- Sarver commented and made jokes frequently to employees in large and small settings about sex and sex-related anatomy, including by making crude or otherwise inappropriate comments about the physical appearance and bodies of female employees and other women. On four occasions, Sarver engaged in workplace-inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.
- Over 50 current and former employees reported that Sarver frequently engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees — including by yelling and cursing at them — that on occasion constituted bullying under workplace standards
Terms of the suspension bar Sarver from entering any NBA or WNBA facility for one year. During that time, he also cannot attend board of governors meetings, represent his teams in any capacity, influence any business or basketball decisions or attend any league-affiliated event, including business partner activities.
SOURCE: Yahoo Sports