Ex-NBA official sues league for discrimination claims

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 7:28 PM
Ex-NBA official sues league for discrimination claims

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former security director filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the National Basketball Association on Thursday, saying he was fired for doggedly raising concerns brought to him by female colleagues that some of their male bosses were sexually harassing them.

Warren Glover, 50, who joined the NBA's security department in 2001, said in his lawsuit that he was passed over for promotion and started receiving negative employee performance reviews only after he began trying to help several female colleagues get their harassment complaints addressed.

"Once Mr Glover did that he became persona non grata at the NBA," Randolph McLaughlin, an attorney for Glover, said in an interview. "Nothing was done to protect the women and nothing was done to protect him. Essentially he was placed in the penalty box."

Glover, who lives in Queens, New York, says he was summarily fired in July and told it was for poor performance.

The lawsuit accuses the NBA of "discriminating against women with respect to terms and conditions of employment" and says it "tolerates a culture of complicity and retaliation against those who complain about such disparate treatment."

Mike Bass, a spokesman for the NBA, said in an e-mail that "Mr. Glover's allegations are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them."

Besides the NBA, Bernard Tolbert, Gregory Robinson and James Cawley, all of whom are or have been senior officials in the NBA's security department, are also named as defendants.

The lawsuit names at least three female NBA employees who Glover tried to help with their complaints about workplace discrimination at various times over the last seven years.

"I was well-respected among my peers who felt comfortable to come to me and talk to me," Glover, who spent 20 years in the New York Police Department prior to joining the NBA, said in an interview.

He said it was his professional and moral responsibility to see the women had their complaints addressed.

One woman complained of insulting remarks about her "manner of dress, intelligence and national origin" after she rebuffed a male supervisor's advances, the lawsuit says.

A few years later, another woman complained about the same supervisor, saying he repeatedly had pornography open on his computer screen when he called her into his office.

A third woman, Annette Smith, complained about harassment from a different male supervisor, including an incident where she was asked to include an image she considered pornographic in a slideshow presentation she was making for him.

She ultimately quit and filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in 2008 which was later settled out of court, according to Glover's lawsuit.

But Glover said none of the complaints were ever dealt with satisfactorily, and that he was demeaned and threatened for trying to pursue them.

In June, Glover says he received a letter from David Stern, the NBA commissioner, praising him for 10 years of service, along with a gold watch. A month later he was called to a conference room and fired.

Glover is seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages from the NBA and the other defendants, as well as compensation for lost wages.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen. Editing by Peter Bohan)