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A Case of racial Discrimination?


HR in Action Case Incident 1:






An Accusation of Sexual Harassment in Pro Sports








The jury in a sexual harassment suit brought by a former high ranking New York Knicks basketball


team executive recently awarded her more than $11 million in punitive damages. They did so after


hearing testimony during what the New York Times called a “sordid four-week trial.” Officials of


Madison Square Garden (which owns the Knicks) said they would appeal the verdict. However, even


if they were to win on appeal (which one University of Richmond Law School professor said was


unlikely), the case still exposed the organization and its managers to a great deal of unfavorable




The federal suit pitted Anucha Browne Sanders, the Knicks’ senior vice president of marketing and


business operations (and former Northwestern University basketball star), against the team’s owner,


Madison Square Garden, and its president, Isiah Thomas. The suit charged them with sex


discrimination and retaliation. Ms. Brown Sanders accused Mr. Thomas of verbally abusing and


sexually harassing her over a 2-year period. She said the garden fired her about a month after she


complained to top management about the harassment. “My pleas and complaints about Mr. Thomas’


illegal and offensive actions fell on deaf ears,” she said. At the trial, the Garden cited numerous


explanations for the dismissal, saying she had “failed to fulfill professional responsibilities,” At a


news conference, Browne Sanders said that Thomas”… refused to stop his demeaning and repulsive


behavior and the Garden refused to intercede.” For the part, Mr. Thomas vigorously insisted he was


innocent, and said, “I will not allow her or anybody, man or woman, to use me as a pawn for their


financial gain.” According to one report of the trial, her claims of harassment and verbal abuse had


little corroboration from witnesses, but neither did the Garden’s claim that her performance had


been subpar. After the jury decision came in, Browne Sanders’ lawyers said, “This [decision] confirms


what we’ve been saying all along, that [Browne Sanders] was sexually abused and fired for


complaining about it.” The Garden’s statement said, in part, “We look forward to presenting our


arguments to an appeals court and believe they will agree that no sexual harassment took place.”
















1. Do you think Ms. Brown Sanders had the basis for a sexual harassment suit? Why?


2. From what you know of this case, do you think the jury arrived at the correct decision? If not,


why not? If so, why?


3. Based on the few facts that you have, what steps could Garden management have taken to


protect itself from liability in this matter?


4. Aside from the appeal, what would you do now if you were the Garden’s top management?


5. “The allegations against Madison Square Garden in this case raise ethical questions with regard


to the employer’s actions.” Explain whether you agree or disagree with this statement, and why.




I need 150-200 words explaining these questions



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