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Is Dallas Maverick’s Investigation a Roadmap for Ending Harassment?

In February 2018, Sport’s Illustrated reported that the Dallas Maverick’s work environment was saturated with sexually offensive conduct. Team president and CEO Terdema Ussery perpetuated this environment as a reputed serial sexual harasser. Following a month-long investigation, the magazine found the corporate culture filled with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior including public fondling by the president and domestic assault by a high-profile member of the staff, followed by threatening responses from supervisors in response to complaints about behavior.
In response to the report, owner Mark Cuban initiated a deep investigation, bringing in two outside law firms who interviewed 215 witnesses and looked at 1.6 million documents. They examined allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual advances, pornography at work and domestic violence as well as conduct by the former HR director as well as other employees.
The result: a 40-page report that recommended significant measures to prevent it from happening again. It recommended increasing the number of female employees in leadership positions; creating anonymous surveys seeking workplace culture and sexual harassment climate information to identify problems; expanding the HR department and hiring a full-time General Counsel as well as sexual harassment training. In the report, it was noted that the “single most important thing that companies can do to reduce sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace is to employ, and promote, more women.” Part of the reason this conduct was so rampant was based on the lack of hierarchy, which the report noted leads to increased risk of sexual harassment in the workplace. Policies lacking clarity are also less likely to be enforced strongly and promptly resulting in uneven disciplinary responses. These recommendations reflect that training may not be enough and creating a culture of inclusivity is more likely to end sexual harassment.