A former employee of the Dallas Mavericks’ arena is seeking documents from the team and the opportunity to depose owner Mark Cuban as part of a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, which also mentions an incident involving a hangman’s noose.
Michelle Newsome, who worked as a sales executive for American Airlines Center’s operations company, filed her petition on Thursday in Dallas County Court.
She alleges she was fired after being told she missed a sales goal, but she told CBSDFW.com that she was the top seller of luxury suites in 10 of her 13 years working for the arena.
‘I truly believe I was fired as a point of retaliation because of my complaints of harassment and discrimination,’ she said.
Newsome said that in 2011, she reported that a co-worker, who like her is African American, found a noose in an information technology closet at Dallas arena, which is home to the Mavericks.
‘The guy was very upset and, of course, offended because it’s hard to believe you’d have coworkers that would do something like that and think it’s OK,’ Newsome said.
The unnamed colleague wrote in a signed statement, per CBS DFW: ‘Cuban … personally removed the hangman’s noose and threw it in the trash. Cuban offered no apology, sympathy, or offer to investigate.’
Newsome said, according to USA Today, ‘That was disheartening because it was underwriting the toxic racial climate there because nothing was done. No apology made.’
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of off-the-court problems for the Mavericks.
In February, Terdema Ussery, the team’s former president and CEO, was accused by numerous women of sexual harassment during his time with the Mavericks.
Cuban subsequently fired a reporter who worked for the team but had remained on the job despite two domestic-violence allegations.
The team launched an independent investigation into workplace misconduct, with the NBA awaiting the results before potentially taking action against the Mavericks.