- The NBA released the findings of its investigation on the workplace misconduct allegations against Robert Sarver
- The league suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million for engaging in racism and misogyny
- Phoenix Suns announces it will make changes to its workplace environment
Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver has been slapped with a $10 million fine and one-year suspension by the NBA after a lengthy probe into the workplace culture within the Suns’ franchise.
The league’s independent investigation found that Sarver engaged in
multiple instances of racism, misogyny and harsh treatment of employees during his time with the organization.
He used the N-word at least five times in recounting a Black person’s statement, demeaned and berated female employees, made sex-related comments and jokes in large and small settings, and cursed and yelled at employees on several occasions.
All these constitute a clear violation of common workplace standards, the report stated.
The workplace misconduct allegations against Sarver first came to the fore in November 2021 when ESPN published a story about Sarver and the workplace culture in Phoenix. Sarver has been in charge of the Phoenix Suns since 2004.
The NBA then commissioned the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz to conduct an independent investigation. Throughout the probe, which lasted nearly one year, investigators carried out 320 interviews and reviewed more than 80,000 documents and other materials, such as emails, videos, and text messages. The NBA released the findings of the investigation on September 13.
While under suspension, Sarver is prohibited from entering any NBA or WNBA facility. He is also barred from participating in board of governors meetings as well as representing his teams. He won’t be able to attend any event affiliated with the NBA or WNBA and cannot influence any business or basketball decisions.
Sarver is also required to complete a training program on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace, with both the Suns and Mercury also ordered to appoint an independent firm to evaluate and monitor the organization’s workplace policies and procedures.
Sarver Takes Responsibility for his Actions
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver described Suns and Mercury’s workplace culture under Sarver’s ownership as “troubling and disappointing” and said the one-year suspension and $10 million fine just serve him right. Silver also apologized to those who have been affected by the misconduct outlined in the findings and reiterated the league’s commitment to upholding proper workplace standards.
The Suns issued an official statement in response to the report, saying they take the NBA’s findings seriously and will implement all the workplace improvements identified by the league.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) September 13, 2022