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Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Thurber suspended from NBA for one year, fined $10 million

The NBA announced on Tuesday that it will suspend Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Thurber for a year and fine him $10 million after a lengthy independent investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct. .

server work with the NBA appointing an interim governor to oversee Sands in his absence; ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported..

The league has launched an investigation into the server following an article published by Holmes in November 2021. In interviews with more than 70 current and former Suns employees, Holmes described a history of “racially insensitive language,” “misogynistic” behavior, and other hostile workplace misconduct. clarified.

The law firms of Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz were commissioned to investigate. Led by his partners David Anders and Sarah Eddy, the research included 320 interviews and a review of more than 80,000 “documents and other materials, including emails, text his messages, and videos.” . The company’s findings made up his 43-page report published in conjunction with his release to NBA News.

As noted in the report, the study revealed the following key findings:

  • The server said the N word at least 5 times, repeating or intending to repeat what the black man said.

  • The server was verbally and insulting to the female employee. Among other examples, he told a pregnant employee that becoming a mother would prevent him from working. After he publicly cursed a female employee, he commented that the woman cried too much. And all set up a women’s lunch so that a female employee at Western Her Alliance Bank, where he was his CEO at the time, could explain to the female employee at Sands how to handle his request. did.

  • Servers frequently comment on sexuality and gender-related anatomy to employees in settings large and small, including making crude or inappropriate comments about the appearance or body of female employees or other women. On four occasions, the server engaged in inappropriate physical conduct at work with a male employee.

  • More than 50 current and former employees reported that Sarver frequently insulted and treated employees harshly.

SUSPENSION BAR REQUIREMENTS Servers are prohibited from entering NBA or WNBA facilities for a period of one year. During that time, he will also not be able to attend board meetings, represent his team, influence business or basketball decisions, or participate in league-related events, including the activities of his business partners.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, “The statements and actions described in the results of the independent investigation are disturbing and disappointing.” We believe that the results are correct given all the facts, circumstances and context exposed by our commitment to maintaining standards.

“Regardless of status, power or intent, we all need to be aware of the corrosive and harmful effects of racially insensitive and demeaning words and actions. On behalf of the entire NBA, Investigators We apologize to all those affected by the misconduct outlined in our report.We will report it.We must do better.”

“The actions taken on behalf of the NBA and WNBA following the results of the independent investigation are appropriate and necessary. We are proud to be one of the most diverse and inclusive leagues in sports. We hope that these actions will not only be used to establish a stronger workplace culture in the Sands/Mercury Organization, but also shed light on the impact of offensive language. Such behavior may affect employees more broadly,” WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbart said in a statement.

In addition to suspensions and fines, servers must complete a training program “focused on respect and proper behavior in the workplace.” Sands and Mercury also to “evaluate and recommend workplace training programs, policies and procedures, and hiring and compensation practices with a focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.” It is compulsory to hire an independent company. Regular workplace culture surveys and reporting to the league office are also required.

Server penalties fall between the other two most severe penalties in league history.

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Thurber has been banned from participating in NBA and WNBA events for a year. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In 2014, the NBA banned former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million when a recording of his racist remarks was released. It faced several discriminatory lawsuits, including the largest housing discrimination settlement in history.

In 2018, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban agreed to donate $10 million to organizations committed to fighting domestic violence and supporting the professional development of women in sports. This follows an investigation that confirmed widespread sexual harassment and workplace misconduct allegations within the organization. Cuban was not suspended for presiding over a systemic failure to protect its employees.

The NBA will donate Thurber’s $10 million fine to organizations that “work to address racial and gender-based issues both inside and outside the workplace.” but, According to Holmes and ESPN colleague Adrian Wojnarowskithe server took issue with his suspension and fines when it came to a “very harsh” punitive process.

“Good leadership requires accountability,” Thurber said in a statement Tuesday. “For the Suns and Mercury organizations, it starts with me. While I disagree with some of the details in the NBA report, I want to apologize for my words and actions that have offended our employees. I apologize for what I have done. I take full responsibility for all of this and I apologize for causing such pain.

“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision.”

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer at Yahoo Sports. Any tips? Email or follow us on Twitter. Follow @Brobach