Friday, May 11, 2018

Former Cleveland Cavs Executive Vice President Files Suit Against Team Alleging Retaliation, Destruction of Evidence in Discrimination Claim

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 1:18 PM

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Mozelle Jackson had been with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an executive vice president since 2010 and as an executive vice present and Chief Financial Officer since 2011. That is up until this week, according to Forbes, which reported that she's been fired. (She's no longer listed on the team's executive leadership site.)

This follows a lawsuit Jackson filed Thursday alleging that the team retaliated against her after she informed the Cavs of a discrimination claim, witnessed electronic evidence being destroyed, and verbally related those concerns to Cavs' lawyers. (The complaint can be read in full below.)

It stems from an incident involving a Cavs "team member" that was brought to her attention in March of this year. Though the lawsuit is heavily redacted, it does say that HR and Cavs in-house counsel investigated the matter.

On March 15, there was a conference call on that investigation involving members of the organization, internal counsel and Howard Luckoff, outside counsel/general counsel for Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures. After that call, according to the complaint, Jackson witnessed members of the organization deleting electronic evidence that she felt was pertinent to the investigation and the imminent firing of a "disabled team member."

According to the complaint, she informed in-house counsel on March 20th of her concerns, and memorialized them in a March 23rd letter to Cavs CEO Len Komorowski, specifically mentioning Ohio's prohibition of discrimination against qualified individuals and urging the team to retrieve the evidence.

A meeting was scheduled for April 10th with Jackson, Luckoff and Komorowski. At that meeting, according to the complaint, Luckoff told Jackson she was a highly valued team member but that she had "caused noise" in the system, that she would likely be fired, and that if she chose to fight the separation, Dan Gilbert was a billionaire who wouldn't think twice about spending money in court to fight her claim.

"Mr. Luckoff stated that they wished for the parting to be amicable, but if Ms. Jackson were to 'fight them on this' she should understand that 'Dan Gilbert is a billionaire and had the money to fight in Court for as long as it takes.'"

It goes on from there, including an alleged threat to ruin her professional reputation with what the complaint says are unfounded performance criticisms.

Update: The Cavs issued a statement over the weekend:

“Two local Cleveland plaintiff specialist lawyers, Richard C. Haber and Andrew A. Kabat, on behalf of former Cavaliers executive Mozelle Jackson, filed a law suit recently full of intentionally twisted, inaccurate and fabricated claims.

Our organization will not pay ransom-like sums to professional plaintiff lawyers demanding significant amounts of unjust compensation on behalf of their clients. It will be clear from any examination of the facts that this law suit is solely motivated with the goal of attaining substantial, unearned financial windfall for the two plaintiff solicitors Richard Haber, Andrew Kabat and their client. We eagerly look forward to bringing this matter to trial and are confident that the truth will prevail, demonstrating that these assertions, although professionally packaged and strategically timed in hopes to maximize pressure and affect, are baseless and false.”

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