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Phoenix Suns team owner Robert Sarver was suspended for one season and fined $10 million after an NBA investigation claimed he had run a toxic environment of racism and misogyny.
The NBA said in a statement that an independent investigation found that Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violates general workplace standards, as reflected in team and league rules and policies. In this conduct, included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that sometimes constituted bullying.”
The initial allegations surfaced in an ESPN report last year.
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According to the NBA, the investigation found that Sarver — who is also the team owner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury — “repeated the n-word while recounting statements from others” at least five times. The NBA said that Sarwar “engaged in cases of unequal conduct toward female employees, made multiple sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions made inappropriate physical appearances towards men.” indulged in conduct. employees.”
The league said it also found that they treated employees harshly.
The NBA said its investigation was led by the law firm of Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz. David Anders and Sarah Eddy, included interviews with 320 people, including current and former employees of Sarwar. More than 80,000 documents and other materials were examined and Sarwar and team officials cooperated fully in the investigation.
Even with its findings, the NBA said, “The investigation did not find that Mr. Sarwar’s workplace misconduct was motivated by racial or gender-based hostility.”
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The NBA said that Sons employees had engaged in “workplace misconduct” and that the organization’s human resources department was “historically ineffective and not a reliable resource for employees who were subjected to acts of inappropriate workplace conduct.”
“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and disappointing,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We believe that the result is accurate, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the extensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to maintaining fair standards in NBA workplaces.
“I hope the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great sport means to people everywhere and strive to represent the values of equality, respect and inclusion. Status, Regardless of power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and harmful effects of racially insensitive and abusive language and behavior. On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all those affected by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report . We must do better.”
Sarwar is barred from all NBA and WNBA team facilities and arenas, participate in any league-related events, represent the Sun or Mercury in any fashion or do any business relating to teams and leagues. He must also complete a workplace conduct training program.
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The allegations against Sarwar stemmed from an ESPN report last November. At the time, Sarwar denied ever using the N-word.