Atlanta Hawks are being sued by former employee for discriminating against white people

An ex-Atlanta Hawks employee is seeking punitive damages from the organization for what she describes as discrimination against white people. In a surprising twist for an organization whose HR department has dealt with racially insensitive behavior over the past few years by white execs, the plaintiff in this civil suit is a white woman accusing her black supervisor of discrimination.

Margo Kline, a former community development coordinator for the Hawks is claiming in a lawsuit filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that her former supervisor, David Lee discriminated against her race and gender. Kline makes several allegations against Lee, who is African-American.

Kline enumerated a few of her complaints.

  • Lee was dismissive and exclusionary toward white employees, especially white females
  • made jokes about white culture
  • made it clear that he wanted to hire black individuals and did not want to hire white females for positions opening up in his department;
  • expected and required more of white individuals, especially white females, than black individuals in the department;
  • promoted and hired less qualified black individuals over white individuals, especially white females;
  • alleges white coworkers were told not to speak with Kline or they could lose their job.

32 PHOTOS
Celebrities at the NBA All-Star Game
See Gallery
Celebrities at the NBA All-Star Game

"Property Brothers" star Drew Scott and fiancée Linda Phan

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Karlie Kloss and boyfriend Joshua Kushner

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter, Tina Knowles and Richard Lawson

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Chris Rock and Megalyn Echikunwoke

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Cardi B and Offset

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Queen Latifah

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Arnold Schwarzenegger

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Maria Shriver

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Jimmy Kimmel and Spike Lee

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Chris Tucker

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Kevin Hart and Eniko Parrish, with kids Hendrix Hart and Heaven Hart

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

DJ Khaled and Ludacris

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Snoop Dogg and Chance the Rapper

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Odell Beckham Jr.

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Lou Adler, Jack Nicholson and son Ray Nicholson

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Ellen Pompeo and husband Chris Ivery

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Anthony Anderson

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Beyoncé and Blue Ivy Carter

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Cassie and Diddy

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Beck

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Nick Cannon and Justin Hartley

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Julianne Moore and husband Bart Freundlich

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Common

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

NBA Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jerry West and Bill Russell

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Ludacris, Chance The Rapper, Chris Rock, Chadwick Boseman, Common and Dave Chappelle

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter and Tina Lawson

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Chadwick Boseman and Floyd Mayweather

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

DJ Khaled and Fergie

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Michael Jordan

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tracy Morgan

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jamie Foxx, Fergie and Ludacris

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Pharrell Williams performing the halftime show

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Some of these accusations are flimsy. For example, her assertion that black employees were less-qualified is problematic, at best. Kline also cites a conversation over lunch with Nzinga Shaw, the Hawks chief diversity and inclusion officer in her suit.

At that lunch, Plaintiff shared her ongoing concerns about the inappropriate and discriminatory behavior she was experiencing and witnessing. Among other things, she reminded Ms. Shaw of a group discussion a few days prior in which Ms. Shaw showed Plaintiff and Mr. Lee a picture of a political campaign at a local HBCU (Historically Black College and University) saying, “Look at this, they have a group called ‘Blacks for Trump.’” Mr. Lee stated that he refused to believe it, and “it was probably just a bunch of white people in black face.” Although Ms. Shaw laughed at the comment at the time, at the lunch on February 3, 2017, Ms. Shaw told Plaintiff that Mr. Lee’s comment was ignorant and said, “That could be a lawsuit!”

According to Kline, she was terminated after bringing her complaints to the organization’s attention. Kline alleges that the aforementioned lunch was followed by a meeting with Shaw and an HR rep (which her suit points out is also a black woman), where she was informed that she was being put on a final written warning” due to ongoing deficiencies in her conduct and/or performance.” Kline was fired three weeks later.

However, the Atlanta Hawks issued a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution defending their handling of Kline’s complaints.

In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks said: “We take all claims of discrimination seriously and have performed a thorough review of these baseless claims. The case was quickly dismissed at the EEOC level. We deny these claims and will vigorously defend against them.”

In the aftermath of Danny Ferry’s dismissal for making derogatory comments pertaining to Luol Deng’s African background, Wes Wilcox getting too comfortable with black women as well as a lawsuit from a former security guard claiming that they were treating performers and artists differently based on race, this is a PR hit on the grounds of race that the Hawks did not need.

10 PHOTOS
NBA teams with the most popular merchandise
See Gallery
NBA teams with the most popular merchandise

10. Oklahoma City Thunder

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

9. Chicago Bulls

(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

8. San Antonio Spurs

(Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

7. Boston Celtics

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

6. Milwaukee Bucks

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

5. New York Knicks

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

4. Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Golden State Warriors

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

More from Yahoo Sports:
Report: Bills player arrested after naked, bloody altercation
Wichita State coach releases prized recruit in classy move
Charles Robinson: Why are Cowboys doing nothing in free agency?
Cavs’ Korver to take time off after death of brother

– – – – – – –

DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at dunsnchecksin@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.