Thursday, September 21, 2006

First Round: Anucha Browne Sanders 1, Knicks/Isiah Thomas 0

The EEOC, the federal administrative agency that enforces employment law, has found "probable cause" to believe Anucha Browne Sanders was sexually harassed by Isiah Thomas, and that the New York Knicks retaliated against her by firing her when she complained.

Under Title VII, the federal employment law, and under New York State law, a plaintiff is required to present her claims at the agency level first prior to going to court. Because of the very short time limits to file employment cases, her case is also filed in federal court, and according to these articles settlement discussions have been initiated there.

The probable cause finding by the EEOC is admissible in court, but that doesn't mean that the case is over, or that Sanders will necessarily win at trial. At trial it is just another piece of evidence in her favor.

This is the result I expected, as Browne Sanders is a respected professional with years of accomplishments on her resume, and she has one of the best plaintiff's employment law firms in New York City representing her. They wouldn't have taken her claim if it wasn't a winner. However, the EEOC doesn't always get it right; the agency has been under attack from within for years, as the Bush Administration has choked off funds and prefers the agency to bring cases for whites claiming reverse discrimination. So it is a victory for her to get this ruling.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks continue to take this hard stand, or if they face reality and put some real money on the table. They can take this to trial, but they'll lose. Isiah Thomas hasn't had a winner since he left the court for the Detroit Pistons. He destroyed the CBA, tried to destroy the Indiana Pacers (he was interrupted from the mission when GM Larry Bird fired his ass), and is in the process of destroying the New York Knicks. You've got to have a big ego to fire Larry Brown.

NYTimes: [EEOC] Report Supports Claims in Suit Against Thomas

The commission’s investigation supported Browne Sanders’s contention that she had been a victim of more than one incident of harassment and that “she was subjected to a hostile work environment including, but not limited to, severe and pervasive verbal sexual harassment.”

The determination, by Spencer H. Lewis Jr., the district director of the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]’s New York office, said the Garden had failed to take “reasonable care to prevent or correct discrimination and harassment in the workplace.”

Lewis made his determination last Friday, and it was released yesterday. His two-page letter did not describe the scope of the commission’s investigation or name witnesses.

Lewis found that the commission’s inquiry supported Browne Sanders’s contention that the Garden had fired her in retaliation for reporting her claims to her supervisors. Lewis also wrote that there was probable cause to believe the Garden violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Garden, but not Thomas, was the subject named in the commission’s investigation.

NYDaily News: Ruling supports accuser's suit

Newsday: Point for MSG accuser
Agency affirms executive's claim she was harassed, fired for complaining and clears way for settlement talks

SI: Mess at MSG
EEOC: Evidence supports Knicks exec's claims

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