Robert Sarver, the owner of the Phoneix Suns, was hit with a massive penalty after an investigation discovered workplace misconduct.
Sarver has now been banned from the NBA for one season and ordered to pay a $10 million fine, which is the maximum the league can fine.
The league released the findings of its extensive investigation after interviewing 320 current and former Suns employees and found Sarver said the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others.”
The league noted Sarver’s use of the N-word was not motivated by racial hate or prejudice, TMZ reported. It also concluded that he did not treat female employees equally and made inappropriate comments about their appearance. The investigation also determined that the owner engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.
“This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying,” the league wrote in a statement.
“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances, and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”
“I am hopeful that the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values of equality, respect, and inclusion that it strives to represent. Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior.”
“On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report. We must do better.”
During Sarver’s suspension, he is ordered to complete a workplace conduct course, and he will not have any access to the team or its facilities during the suspension.
The Suns must hire an outside firm to advise on workplace training, hiring, and compensation.
Sarver is a real estate development mogul and acquired the Suns in 2004 for $401 million.