PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver has been suspended for one year by the NBA after an investigation into misconduct.
During their investigation, which stemmed from an ESPN report in November 2021, the NBA found that Sarver "engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards as reflected in team and league rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
The original report says ESPN talked to more than 70 people who worked in the organization. They painted a picture of a hostile work environment. Sarver allegedly used racially insensitive language, including the "n-word." The article included references to instances of misogyny and situations when employees felt cornered and belittled.
Among the key findings of the NBA's subsequent report:
"Mr. Sarver on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others. Mr. Sarver engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related 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 conduct toward male employees. Mr. Sarver engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees including by yelling and cursing at them."
The NBA today issued the following statement: pic.twitter.com/jjlBK771PT— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) September 13, 2022
A statement from the NBA says Sarver’s suspension means he can not:
“Be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office arena or practice facility.
Attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity including games practices, or business partner activity.
Represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity.
Have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.
Have any involvement in the business governance or activities of either the NBA or WNBA, including attending or participating in meetings of either league's Board (and their associated Board committees)”
Sarver is also fined $10 million. The NBA says they will "donate these funds to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.”