Former security director sues NBA, alleges discrimination

Thursday, December 15, 2011

(Editor's note: Updated on Dec. 17 with a comment from an NBA spokesman in the fifth paragraph)

Warren Glover, a former security director with the NBA, has filed a lawsuit against the NBA and three of its current and former security executives alleging he was retaliated against for reporting acts of sexual discrimination occurring within the department, according to a complaint filed on Thursday in New York State Supreme Court. The New York Times broke the story late yesterday.

Named in the lawsuit are Bernard Tolbert, a former senior vice president of security at the NBA; Gregory Robinson, a current senior director of security at the NBA; and Jim Cawley, the NBA's current senior vice president of security. Efforts by Security Director News to contact Tolbert and Robinson were unsuccessful. Calls to Cawley seeking comment were not returned.

Glover, who was fired in July after 10 years with the NBA's security department, claims he was discriminated against and ultimately fired for reporting several acts of sexual discrimination and harassment beginning in 2004 by Tolbert and John Daniels, another NBA security director, against female staff members, according to the complaint. Daniels has not returned phone calls seeking comment. (Full disclosure: John Daniels sits on the advisory board of TechSec, the emerging security technology conference organized by Security Director News and our sister publication, Security Systems News.)

"This wasn’t a situation where he was just seeing things, though he did. Women were coming to him and complaining," Randolph McLaughlin, Glover's attorney, told Security Director News. "He took it up to his supervisors and their response was anything other than: 'Oh, yes. We'll get to the bottom of this.' They discouraged him. They tried to shut down the investigation. They had no interest. It was essentially an all-male club and he wasn’t playing on their team as far as they were concerned. ... I think it’s a culture issue. I call it the culture of misogyny. When I say culture that’s what I mean."

The NBA denies the allegations. "Mr. Glover's allegations are without merit, and we will vigorously defend against them," NBA Spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement sent to SDN.

Glover told the Times that the problem of sexual discrimination within the security department "goes pretty far." "They encourage you to report something, and when you do, it seems as if it's taken out on you," he told the newspaper.

In 2008, Annette Smith, Glover's administrative support, left her job and filed a complaint accusing Tolbert of sexual discrimination. Glover had confronted Tolbert with Smith's complaints several times previous to Smith's departure. Glover testified against Tolbert in the subsequent case. In October 2010, after "a sizable settlement" was awarded to Smith, Tolbert left the NBA, according to the complaint. Cawley then became the NBA's new senior vice president of security.

Glover, who was a lieutenant commander with the NYPD before joining the NBA in 2001, is suing for damages and lost pay.