Less than 48 hours after Sports Illustrated exposed the Dallas Mavericks’ culture of sexual misconduct in the workplace, the NBA has taken action.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the league will institute next week a hotline for team and league employees to confidentially report workplace misconduct. Per Woj, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the hotline in a memo to teams, in which he stressed the importance of “providing employees with a safe and inclusive work environment.”
The rest of the memo outlined existing initiatives within the NBA on issues surrounding the league’s “Respect in the Workplace Policy,” including the NBA’s plan to “conduct a series of mandatory, small-group discussions facilitated by outside experts to ensure that we all have a full understanding of issues related to sexual harassment and expectations for how we should behave in the workplace.”
There are obviously questions that still need answering here. Who will vet the reports? Might there be conflicts of interest? How will the league keep informants’ identities confidential? What will happen after misconduct is reported? Will every accusation result in a painful he-said/she-said? Who makes the final call on punishment? All that said, however, this seems like a responsible first step in stomping out predatory or abusive behavior at team and league offices.
Sports Illustrated’s report on the Mavericks described some truly odious conduct from team employees, particularly former president Terdema Ussery. Per SI, employees say Ussery propositioned them for sex, touched their calves and thighs in meetings and even once asked a woman whether she would be “gang-banged.”
Ussery was first investigated for sexual harassment back in 1998, so the Mavericks could not have been blind-sided by SI’s report, yet he worked for the team until 2015, when he left for Under Armour. He was soon fired from that job amid sexual harassment allegations.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Mavericks said they took the allegations about the team’s corporate culture seriously and would conduct an internal investigation into the matter.