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Former Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson is suing the team, alleging that owner Mark Cuban fired him last summer as a means of retaliation for reporting that his nephew was sexually harassed and assaulted by Cuban’s chief of staff during a job interview in 2020. ESPN first reported the lawsuit.

The report says that the suit also alleges that Cuban offered Nelson $52 million to withdraw a wrongful termination claim and sign a confidentiality agreement to keep quiet about the alleged harassment and abuse of Nelson’s nephew.

The alleged incident in the suit, which was filed in Dallas County Court on Thursday, between Nelson’s nephew, who is not identified, and Jason Lutin, who the lawsuit describes as Cuban’s “right-hand man” and who still works for the team, took place during All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

In an email to ESPN, Cuban vehemently denied the claims in the lawsuit, writing “Everything in that filing is a lie.” Lutin also denied the allegations to ESPN in an email. He wrote, “What this man [Nelson] is doing to someone like me is absolutely unspeakable.”

ESPN reports that Nelson did not find out about the alleged February 16, 2020 incident with Lutin or that his nephew reached an undisclosed settlement with the Mavericks until five months later. According to the lawsuit, that is when Nelson confronted Cuban.

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That confrontation, the lawsuit claims, led to Cuban withdrawing a 10-year, $66 million contract extension in September 2020 that he and Nelson were negotiating. Nelson filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December that same year.

Nelson told ESPN in a statement that he chose to file the lawsuit “on behalf of my family and all the Mavericks employees who have experienced harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace.”

His EEOC complaint also alleges that, “Cuban’s cover up of Lutin’s sexual harassment and sexual assault is proof that the only reason Cuban ever cared about the discriminatory and sexist work environment of the Mavericks was when it was exposed and publicized by Sports Illustrated,” ESPN reports.

In 2018, Sports Illustrated published an investigative report describing a “corrosive workplace culture” within the Dallas Mavericks spanning decades. It detailed a “corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior” and included numerous allegations against various team employees, including former CEO Terdema Ussery.

The NBA subsequently hired an outside law firm to investigate the alleged claims made against the organization. That team found that there was indeed “improper workplace conduct” and that the Mavericks’ management was “ineffective, including a lack of compliance and internal controls.”

In the aftermath, the Mavericks hired Cynt Marshall to clean up workplace culture, terminated numerous employees who had allegations levied against them–Cuban recently had business dealings with one of those employees–and Cuban donated $10 million to charities supporting women’s organizations.

Source: Forbes

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