Robert Sarver, Phoenix Suns and Mercury Owner, Suspended and Fined by NBA

Robert Sarver, majority owner of the NBA's Phoenix Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the NBA after a league investigation found he created a hostile work environment.

The investigation, which covered all of Sarver's 18 years in the Suns organization, uncovered multiple instances of racism and misogyny.

Key findings listed in the NBA's press release on the matter include that Sarver "repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others" on at least five occasions, and he engaged in "inequitable conduct toward female employees."

The release also said Sarver "made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees."

The NBA's statement continued, "Mr. Sarver engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them."

Sarver is not allowed to be around any NBA or WNBA facility during his suspension, and he's not allowed to be a part of any NBA or WNBA event or activity. Additionally, he is not permitted to represent the Suns or Mercury in "any public or private capacity."

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver
Here, Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver is seen at Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on October 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The NBA suspended Sarver on Tuesday for one year and fined him $10 million. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The $10 million fine Sarver received is the maximum amount permitted by NBA rules. The league said the money will be donated to organizations that address race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

Sarver was also ordered to undergo a training program on "respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace" during his suspension.

The NBA hired the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to lead an independent investigation after ESPN.com published a story in November 2021. The article detailed accusations that Sarver had created a toxic atmosphere at the Suns. Sarver denied the allegations contained in the story through his legal team.

The NBA's press release noted that Sarver and the Suns/Mercury organization cooperated fully with its investigation. The league also said its report found no evidence that "Sarver's workplace misconduct was motivated by racial or gender-based animus."

ESPN.com interviewed more than 70 former and current Suns employees for its report, whereas the NBA gathered information from 320 individuals who have been or currently are employed by the Suns. The law firm hired by the league also examined more than 80,000 documents and materials such as emails, text messages and videos.

The NBA investigation found additional instances of workplace misconduct in the Suns organization that was not directly related to Sarver, including claims of racial insensitivity and inappropriate sexual comments. In the league's report, the Suns' human resources department was called "historically ineffective" and characterized as "not a trusted resource for employees who were subjected to acts of improper workplace conduct."

The report noted that the Suns in 2021 had hired a new head of human resources and positive changes and new initiatives have since been put into place.

"The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in the statement. "On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators' report. We must do better."

Newsweek reached out to the NBA and the Phoenix Suns for comment.