- A report from Sports Illustrated details allegations of a “hostile work environment” within the Dallas Mavericks organisation.
- The allegations include years of inappropriate behaviour by the team’s former president and CEO, and accusations that the head of human resources did little when women complained.
- The report also details allegations of domestic violence made against the team’s in-house beat writer, who was allowed to remain employed after he was accused of hitting a fellow Mavs employee he was dating.
- Mark Cuban fired the team’s head of HR and the beat writer after learning of the SI report.
Mark Cuban has fired the Dallas Mavericks’ head of human resources and in-house beat writer in response to a report from Sports Illustrated that details allegations of a “hostile work environment” and “real life ‘Animal House.’“
SI interviewed more than a dozen former and current Mavericks employees. According to the report, those interviews painted a picture of “a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behaviour; alleged public fondling by the team president; outright domestic assault by a high-profile member of the Mavs.com staff; unsupportive or even intimidating responses from superiors who heard complaints of inappropriate behaviour from their employees; even an employee who openly watched pornography at his desk. “
The majority of the allegations are directed at the Mavericks’ former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, who left the team in 2015.
According to the report, Ussery was first investigated by the Mavericks after complaints by female employees in 1998, two years before Cuban purchased the team. Ussery remained with the team. However the allegations reportedly continued.
Two women told SI that “Ussery harassed them for years” and that incidents ranged from “inappropriate remarks to requests for sex to touching women’s calves and thighs during meetings.”
According to the report, the women informed Buddy Pittman, the head of human resources, “countless times.”
Pittman was fired by Cuban on Monday after the Mavericks owners learned of the allegations, according to SI.
Another woman, who recorded incidents of misconduct over a period of years, told SI she complained to her boss about Ussery. She alleges that her boss told her to “shut up and do [your] job,” and told her to “just take” the abuse from Ussery.
After Ussery left the Mavs, he was hired by Under Armour as their president for global sports. He resigned from that position after less than two months. Multiple sources told SI that the resignation came after an allegation of sexual harassment.
The other employee fired by the Mavs was the team’s official beat writer, Earl K. Sneed.
According to SI, Sneed pleaded guilty to misdemeanour charges of family violence assault following an incident with a girlfriend in 2012. Sneed was arrested at the team offices according to SI. Sneed continued to work with the Mavs.
In 2014, Sneed was dating a fellow Mavs employee. Several sources alleged that “the couple had a dispute and Sneed turned violent, hitting the woman,” leaving her with bruises and a swollen face. Pittman remained with the Mavericks until this week when he was fired by Cuban, according to SI.
The Mavericks released a statement on Tuesday saying they take the allegations “extremely seriously.”
“Yesterday we notified the league office and immediately hired outside counsel to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. The investigation will focus on the specific allegations related to this former employee, and will look more broadly at our company’s workplace practices and policies. In addition, an employee whose job was to receive and investigate such complaints and report them accurately and fully, has been suspended pending the conclusion of our investigation.”
When Cuban was reached by SI, he denied having any knowledge of a “hostile work environment,” noting that his day-to-day involvement with the team is typically limited to basketball operations.
“I was involved in basketball operations, but other than getting the financials and reports, I was not involved in the day to day [of the business side] at all,” Cuban told SI. “That’s why I just deferred. I let people do their jobs. And if there were anything like this at all I was supposed to be made aware, obviously I was not.”
Cuban also told SI that he was embarrassed by the allegations and vowed to fix it.
“I want to deal with this issue,” Cuban told SI. “I mean, this is, obviously there’s a problem in the Mavericks organisation and we’ve got to fix it. That’s it. And we’re going to take every step. It’s not something we tolerate. I don’t want it. It’s not something that’s acceptable. I’m embarrassed, to be honest with you, that it happened under my ownership, and it needs to be fixed. Period. End of story.”
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