The NBA has a laundry list of issues. The league’s most pressing issue has nothing to do with player salaries, basketball-related income or David Stern vetoing trades — the NBA has a sexual harassment problem.

Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis reportedly sent lewd photos of himself to a Warriors employee from November 2010 to January 2010. The employee is suing the star guard for sexual harassment.

As terrible as that is, as we’ve so often learned, the cover up is always worse than the crime. The Warriors allegedly did just that—then fired the employee for bringing the claims against their star guard.

If this was one isolated incident, fine. We could let the legal system run its course and punish Ellis if he in fact committed wrongdoing. The reason the NBA has a problem is because this type of behavior is becoming a pattern. Female employees are being subject to abuse and no one in the league seems to be too concerned about it.

Last week, a former NBA security director, Warren Glover, filed a lawsuit against the NBA claiming he was denied promotions and ultimately fired for reporting sexual assault complaints on behalf of female employees. One of those employees filed her own lawsuit, which was settled in September 2009.

Glover claimed that throughout the NBA offices, its commonplace for women to be demeaned and harassed. Higher-ups look away from the frat-boy mentality, and women are forced to either accept it or find employment elsewhere.

“There was a culture of misogyny at this department,” said one of his lawyers, Randolph M. McLaughlin, in the Associated Press report.

If these allegations are true, it’s time for the league to look at its policies, and how it ultimately polices itself against these crimes. Sexual assault in the workplace is unacceptable. Allowing that type of workplace culture is deplorable.
The league has a lot of problems and issues to deal with, but their employee’s work experience needs to be put at the forefront. These aren’t isolated instances, but perhaps dangerous trends that will only become worse if not dealt with immediately.

In 2007, the league had a front row seat to see what can happen when this type of behavior isn’t handled swiftly. That year Madison Square Garden executive Anucha Browne Sanders sued the New York Knicks, Knicks owner James Dolan, then Knicks General Manager Isiah Thomas, and MSG for wrongful termination, after she said she was fired for turning down Thomas’ advances.

[NBCVIDEO source=”bayarea” video=”” w=”576″ h=”324″]

View more videos at:

She ended up winning the lawsuit and receiving an $11.6 million settlement. Further showing just what type of environment Knicks employees were working in, then starting point guard Stephon Marbury admitted to having sex with an MSG intern in that same trial.

And this problem may not be just an NBA-one, but a professional sports one in general. We all remember the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger saga and the New York Jets issue with Ines Sainz in the NFL.

The MLB has just enforced a new media dress code policy, which some argue is aimed at female reporters, because apparently major league baseball players can’t be expected to act appropriately in front of women in the locker room.

This type of behavior needs to stop. The NBA especially needs to accept responsibility for the environment it has blindly allowed to exist. Sexual assault can be prevented if top executives are willing to put the work in to keep a healthy, safe work environment for everyone.

The NBA has a problem. David Stern has gone through great lengths in his career to fix most of the NBA’s problems.

Let’s see if he’s willing to fix a real problem worth solving.