After weeks of headlines blaring about Mark Cuban overseeing an NBA organization where sexual harassment is rampant, the billionaire could also now be facing a legal case charging him and the Dallas Mavericks with racial discrimination.
Michelle Newsome, an African American and former employee of the American Airlines Center, filed a petition in the Dallas County Court on Thursday seeking documents from the Mavericks and asking for owner Cuban to be deposed in the case, USA Today reported.
The petition claims that Cuban tried to “sweep under the rug” a 2011 incident at the American Airlines Center when a noose was found in the IT room across from Cuban’s suite.
USA Today reported:
Newsome, who is African-American, heard of the presence of the noose from a male employee, who is also African-American, who found it before the Mavericks’ Feb. 23, 2011, game.
According to her petition, a contractor who works with the Arena Operating Company, which operates the American Airlines Center, put the noose in the closet. Her petition states the male employee who found it took a photo of it. That employee, who provided an affidavit about what he saw, said Cuban threw the noose in the trash.
“That was disheartening because it was underwriting the toxic racial climate there because nothing was done,” Newsome said. “No apology made.
“There was nothing done and the most disheartening thing was the fact that Mr. Cuban is the one who took down the noose and discarded it. … They tried to brush it under the carpet,” Newsome said. “There was no action taken by him.
“There was nothing that said, there was no action taken by Mr. Cuban, and he didn’t say anything like that this is intolerable, that this can’t be tolerated,” Newsome said.”There was nothing at all stated saying this was wrong; this is not allowed, this is not representative of a company culture that I want to have for one of my businesses.”
The Arena Operating Company, also known as Center Operating Company, which provides employee training and management resources, said in a statement that it “strives to treat all employees with dignity, respect, and fairness, including maintaining an environment free of unlawful harassment and intimidation. All forms of harassment are strictly prohibited and are not tolerated.”
In the State of Texas, those filing a petition can request documents and depositions ahead of filing a lawsuit, USA Today reported.
Newsome’s attorney, Rogge Dunn, has asked Cuban to sit down for a three and a half hour deposition as part of the pre-lawsuit protocol.
Newsome worked for AOC for 13 years and had said she regularly complained about racial discrimination, pay inequity, harassment, and bullying by co-workers. She was fired in 2017, according to USA Today.
Although a contractor is said to have placed the noose and Cuban’s role was only discarding it, he is named as a party to the discrimination in the petition.
“It’s amazing to me that after an incident occurs — and nobody’s blaming Cuban for putting it there — but no action taken that we know of against the contractor and the white employee that put it there,” Dunn said. “Then you’d think they’d have some racial sensitivity training. Most of my corporate clients, every year they’re giving racial sensitivity and sexual harassment training as a matter of course, and that never occurred at the AOC.”
This is not the first time that Newsome has filed a complaint of this nature.
In January she filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, USA Today reported.