Racism and Misogyny in Phoenix Suns Came to Light

Robert Sarver

The inside story of the Phoenix Suns and its owner Robert Sarver’s behavior came to light with the termination of Earl Watson, the fourth head coach of the Suns.

According to  an article by ESPN, Watson stated that after Suns got defeated by the Warriors, Sarver came to the coaches locker room and repeatedly used the N-word despite his objections, who is Black and Hispanic.

In interviews conducted with former and current employees of the Suns, they described the toxic and sometimes hostile workplace throughout Sarver’s 17-year tenure as the owner of the company.

They further stated that Sarver has repeatedly used racially inappropriate language. Moreover, many felt the language was misogynistic and unfitting.

One of the Suns co-owners confirmed the same by asserting that such behavior is embarrassing and truly unacceptable. Sarver has denied all allegations.

Further, former and current employees have asserted that Sarver’s behavior has affected and contributed to a toxic culture where few managers in the organization have followed in his footsteps.

Moreover, an NBA spokesperson stated they have not received any complaints of misconduct from the Suns.

Several employees told ESPN that Sarver’s behavior and sexual comments have made them uncomfortable. At one point, Sarver “pantsed” an account executive in front of many employees and was told by an HR employee who smirked, not to sue them for sexual harassment. Sarver did admit to this antic as a misguided attempt at humor.

Sarver is famous for marginalizing and downgrading the coaches of the Suns. Both past and current employees of Suns have sought professional help to cope with stress, anxiety and general well-being. Some employees’ stress and anxiety levels have increased to the point of causing them to leave the job.

One past female employee has stated that after being physically assaulted by a male colleague, HR moved her desk to resolve the issue. However, it was not effective as the accused male employee was only a few rows away.

Many female employees told ESPN they have experienced verbal abuse and inappropriate comments from male executives.

Employees have stated they lied on ‘team-administered surveys’ due to fear of retaliation. A former HR representative stated that employees were told to avoid coming into the HR department to file complaints due to the risk of being retaliation. They encouraged off-site meetings or a walk to discuss allegations so employees wouldn’t be seen in HR.

Most current employees stated that they never encourage anyone to join the Suns organization. Sarver’s agreement has no loopholes and it would be hard to relieve him given his power in the company. Further, Sarver’s behavior has never changed despite whatever happens in the company.

First Response will partner with your company to provide and maintain a professional environment free of harassment and discrimination. We also conduct workplace investigations and provide an employee hotline to foster a safe and professional workplace.

Contact us now to see how we can help you!

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