Robert Sarver, owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix MercuryHe was suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the NBA following the league’s investigation into the Suns franchise.

The NBA announced the punishment Tuesday, citing an investigation that found Sarver used the N-word at least five times during his time with the Suns and Mercury “when talking about other people’s statements.”

In addition, “unfair actions against female employees,” the NBA said in a statement, including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments about the appearance of employees.

The NBA ordered an investigation after ESPN published a story in November 2021 detailing allegations of racism and sexism during Sarver’s 17 years as an owner.

The NBA said Sarver has “fully cooperated with the investigation process,” league sources told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Adrian Wojnarowski, rejecting the idea that he deserves a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine. The punishment part of the process has turned out to be largely abhorrent, sources said.

The investigation, led by New York-based law firm Wachtel Lipton, said Sarver “engaged in conduct that violated collective workplace standards as outlined in team and league rules and policies.”

The investigation included interviews with more than 320 current and former employees as well as Sarver, the NBA announced. It examined more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos. The report is submitted It is publicly available online..

During Sarver’s tenure, the investigation found the following.

  • On at least five occasions, he “repeated the N-word when speaking of other people’s statements.”

  • “They engaged in unfair treatment of female employees, made numerous sexually suggestive comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical behavior toward male employees.”

  • “They engaged in humiliating and cruel treatment of staff, including shouting and swearing at them.”

Sources say the Suns are willing to access human resources records and thousands of internal emails. Specialists from the London-headquartered Deloitte firm and the Chicago-based Kirkland Ellis law firm participated in the investigation.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “The statements and actions described in the independent investigation’s findings are deeply troubling and disappointing. Considering all the facts, circumstances and circumstances, we believe the outcome is correct. This is a comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and the proper standards of the NBA’s workplaces.” Our commitment to protect.

Silver continued, “I hope the NBA community will take this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion that it strives to represent. He must recognize the damaging and damaging effects of demeaning language and behavior. On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all those affected by the abuse detailed in the investigators’ report. We must do better.

The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed by the NBA, and the money will be donated to organizations that “address issues of race and gender in the workplace and outside of the workplace.”

During the ban, the server cannot:

  • “Be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, in any office, arena or practice facility.”

  • “Participate in or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices or business partner activities.”

  • “Represent the Sun or Mercury in any public or private capacity.”

  • “Have any involvement in Sun or Mercury business or basketball activities.”

  • “Have any involvement in NBA or WNBA business, administration or activities, including attending or participating in meetings of either league board (and their respective board committees).”

Sarver must complete a training program focused on respect and proper conduct in the workplace.

The Suns and Mercury organizations must meet a series of requirements for workplace improvements set and regulated by the NBA. These requirements include:

  • “To evaluate and make recommendations to an outside firm regarding workplace training programs, policies and procedures, and hiring and compensation practices — with a focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.”

  • “Conduct formal and informal workplace culture surveys and respond to survey results with specific action plans.”

  • “Immediately report to the league any significant misconduct or allegations of misconduct by any employee.”

  • “For three years, the organization will submit regular reports to the league regarding the steps taken to meet these requirements.”

  • “Following league direction to correct/improve workplace issues if/when they arise.”

In interviews with Wachtel Lipton lawyers, some conducted in person, by phone and video conference, Suns employees confirmed various allegations published in ESPN’s November story, introduced others and provided documents including emails.

The investigation also found examples of “misconduct by Sun employees not directly related to the server and lack of proper organizational policies and controls.” He found examples of “racial harassment, mistreatment of female employees, inappropriate comments related to sex or sexual orientation, and disrespectful communication.”

Additionally, the group’s human resources department “is not a trusted source for employees who have a history of ineffective or inappropriate workplace conduct.”

In the year It’s the league’s third investigation into a team owner since Adam Silver became NBA commissioner in 2014 — all three cases being led by Wachtel Lipton.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski contributed to this report

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