August 10, 2022

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A longtime Phoenix Suns worker resigned from the group final month, alleging she turned the...

A longtime Phoenix Suns worker resigned from the group final month, alleging she turned the goal of bullying and retaliation by superiors after elevating issues about gender fairness and misconduct throughout the group, paperwork obtained by ESPN present.

Melissa Fender Panagiotakopoulos, who started working for the Suns in August 2007, despatched a resignation e-mail on Could 20 to 16 members of the possession group, together with majority proprietor Robert Sarver, difficult them to handle what she stated is a poisonous and misogynistic office tradition.

Her resignation got here amid the NBA’s investigation into Sarver and the Suns’ office, which the league launched in November after ESPN printed a narrative detailing allegations of racism and misogyny in a generally hostile and poisonous office throughout Sarver’s 17-year tenure as majority proprietor. Sarver has denied the vast majority of the allegations in ESPN’s reporting.

In her resignation e-mail, Panagiotakopoulos wrote that she was sending it to “key stakeholders” to “make sure this group can affect optimistic change.”

She didn’t particularly reference any points with Sarver, or title any particular person worker.

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Panagiotakopoulos most lately held the title of senior premium expertise supervisor, a place accountable for serving to to generate income from high-level purchasers. She held that place from April 2014 till her resignation.

Within the e-mail, which was additionally despatched to the Suns’ head of human assets, Panagiotakopoulos provided a listing of allegations, saying that “every of those factors create the tradition and make up the character of our management.”

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She alleged that there have been “inherent conflicts of curiosity with managers’ capability to obtain commissions, cherry choose offers, revise suite lease phrases to line their very own pockets, and function in a special method than the remainder of the gross sales group with no true constant programs or oversight.”

She additionally alleged inequities and gender discrimination, writing, “Is it a coincidence that I’ve been the one mom in all the gross sales group for the final 15 years? Is it as a result of sure males had been being paid extra in equal roles?”

And she or he alleged points with human assets’ “capability to remain related and exert affect over C-suites — the dearth of follow-up, capability to resolve battle or true concern for worker effectively being.”

“Now we have been made conscious of allegations by a former worker and are investigating them, in step with our Respect within the Office Coverage,” the Suns Legacy Companions group stated in an announcement offered to ESPN. “The Phoenix Suns are dedicated to making a protected, respectful, and inclusive work surroundings freed from discrimination and harassment, and we don’t tolerate retaliation for the reporting of alleged misconduct.”

Regardless of the group’s current on-court success, Panagiotakopoulos wrote the group has “by no means been extra dysfunctional, and the tradition is quickly eroding.”

Panagiotakopoulos, who declined to remark for this story, additionally wrote that she had beforehand voiced related points, together with gender discrimination, in a memo to the group’s human assets division on Nov. 10 — lower than per week after ESPN’s preliminary story was printed.

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That notice, which was connected to the e-mail despatched to Suns possession on Could 20 and obtained by ESPN, stated, partially, “Over a few years, it has change into clear to me that the Suns group doesn’t place the identical worth on creating ladies in its workforce, and even on making certain they’re handled equally as in comparison with their male counterparts.”

In that memo, Panagiotakopoulos alleged {that a} male colleague with related tenure however much less accountability was paid at a better charge and permitted to make money working from home.

“As a working mom, after I requested the identical flexibility, I used to be denied,” she wrote. “I’ve noticed these sorts of inequities all through the Suns group, and I’ve personally skilled the form of gender-based misconduct described in current media experiences. And after I tried to share my issues with HR and management (together with people on the highest degree), I used to be dismissed – and as soon as was even informed to ‘take a chilly bathe.’”

In her resignation, Panagiotakopoulos referenced the November memo, writing, “Since that confidential interplay with senior management, HR and authorized, there was a constant retaliation and bullying by my direct management.”

“Amongst different issues,” she wrote, “they excluded me from consumer dinners, scrutinized my each transfer, choice, and e-mail with excruciating ranges of micromanagement.”

“My job has grown extra insupportable and poisonous than ever,” Panagiotakopoulos stated.

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