NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA forced a security director out of his job because he stuck up for colleagues who complained of sexual harassment and discrimination, the ousted league official said in a lawsuit Thursday.
After a decade with the league, Warren Glover was fired in July “in retaliation for his continued advocacy on behalf of female employees,” according to his lawsuit against the NBA and three current and former security executives.
The league hasn’t seen the lawsuit, but based on media reports about it, “Mr. Glover’s allegations are without merit, and we will vigorously defend against them,” spokesman Mike Bass said. The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan state court, seeks unspecified damages.
A former New York Police Department lieutenant commander, Glover started working for the league in 2001, his lawsuit said. His job eventually included running security for the NBA Jam Session, a fan-friendly event tied to the All-Star Game.
Glover earned praise during his first few years with the league, but he was passed over for a promotion and started getting bad evaluations after he reported three women’s allegations to bosses, according to his complaint.
Two women said another security employee had made offensive remarks, displayed pornographic material on his computer screen and otherwise harassed them, Glover says.
To him, “this was a serious matter,” he said in an interview Thursday. But when he relayed the complaints to higher-ups, they expressed concerns about harming the other employee’s career, his lawsuit says.
The third woman, Annette Smith, ultimately filed a federal gender-discrimination lawsuit saying Bernard Tolbert, then a league senior vice president for security, made demeaning comments about women and forced her to photocopy a sexually inappropriate picture. Smith, an administrative worker, said she was denied promotions and ultimately fired after she complained.
Tolbert and the league denied her allegations. Her lawsuit was settled in September 2009, court records show.
Glover testified in a deposition that Tolbert and other league officials were aware of Smith’s complaints, his lawsuit says.
Glover’s lawsuit also names Tolbert and current league security officials Gregory Robinson and James Cawley as defendants.
Tolbert, who now lives in Buffalo, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and didn’t realize that Glover was no longer with the NBA, as Glover was still working there when he retired.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Tolbert said by phone.
Glover, 50, said he repeatedly contested his bad evaluations, to no avail. He said the league cited poor performance in dismissing him in July, but he believes his firing was payback for raising gender-discrimination issues.
“There was a culture of misogyny at this department,” said one of his lawyers, Randolph M. McLaughlin.
Sexual harassment on the administrative end of pro basketball became a flashpoint in 2007, when a jury awarded former New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders $11.6 million in her lawsuit against then-coach Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden. Thomas, a former Detroit Pistons star, was removed as Knicks coach after a dismal season that year. He now coaches at Florida International University.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.