Is NBA ‘Over The Limit’ On Sexual Harassment?

Whereas the biggest issue for the National Basketball Association appeared for most of 2011 to be just trying to resolve a labor dispute, it now seems that sexual harassment could be the problem looming largest for the league in 2012.

Last week we wrote about the former employee of the Golden State Warriors who is suing the team and shooting guard Monta Ellis after the star player allegedly sent her several dozen explicit messages, including a photo of his genitals. On December 30, 2011, SLAM Magazine reported that the Warriors have faced other allegations of sexual harassment since majority owner Joe Lacob completed his purchase of the franchise in November 2010. According to SLAM, one accuser left the Warriors and is now employed by a separate NBA franchise, and at least two other former employees with similar accusations have settled their cases. SLAM also said there have been reports of the Warriors cheerleading squad being asked to participate in non-basketball events, such as an appearance at a party being thrown by the owner’s 23-year-old son, Kirk Lacob.

Furthermore, the New York times reported on December 15, 2011, that 50-year-old former NBA security director Warren Glover is suing the league for lost wages and damages after he was fired after warning NBA officials about sexual harassment within the league offices in New York. “They encourage you to report something and when you do, it seems as if it’s taken out on you,” Glover told the Times.

Unlike the sexual advances-for-employment or promotion involved in quid pro quo sexual harassment, the types of harassment alleged here represent a “hostile working” environment. Again, the complaints we covered last week relating to Monta Ellis appear to be just scratching the surface of the overall problem here. If a highly respected security official with what the Times called “a glowing performance record for most of his tenure” is punished for doing what he (and most of us) thought of as “the right thing to do,” we must ask how many more of these allegations within NBA offices should we expect this year?

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys