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Does Sports Culture Sweep Harassment Under the Rug?

On Dec 21, a former female employee of the Golden State Warriors filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against star player Monta Ellis, alleging that Ellis sent her unwanted text messages, including explicit photos. In the lawsuit, Erika Smith alleges she received dozens of explicit messages, sometimes several times a day, during 2010-2011, when she worked in the team’s community relations department.

Golden State Warriors

Smith’s attorney stated that Smith felt embarrassed and intimidated about the situation. The Warriors deny the allegations, and stated that the two had a “consensual relationship”. According to the lawsuit, the Warriors changed Smith’s job description and eventually fired her after Ellis’ wife found the texts on his phone and complained to the team. Smith alleges that the team essentially offered her a bribe to resign and keep the situation quiet, which she refused.

Smith has stated that it was difficult to go public with the lawsuit against such a prominent sports figure, fearing that her career in the NBA could be over. “it would be hard to re-establish myself after working so hard throughout the years,” said Smith, who believes she may be blacklisted in NBA circles.

Is this situation an example of a larger problem in the professional sports world where highly paid athletes are allowed to behave in any way they choose (legal or not) no matter the consequences? Or do you think this is a situation of a disgruntled employee targeting a sports star? Leave your thoughts and comments below.



Photo courtesy of Flickr: //

Sources: The Houston Chronicle, ESPN: //



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