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Ex-Atlanta Hawks team employee says she was discriminated against for being white

iStock/Thinkstock
iStock/Thinkstock

(ATLANTA) — A former Atlanta Hawks employee is accusing the NBA team of discriminating against her as a white female.

In a lawsuit filed on Friday against the team, Margo Kline, an ex-community development coordinator for the team, claimed that director of external affairs David Lee “promoted a culture of discrimination against white individuals” and further showed bias against Kline because she is female.

Kline is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and a trial. According to the lawsuit, she received a notice of right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December.

Kline, who is white, worked for the Atlanta Hawks from June 2012 through March 2017. During that time, the lawsuit alleges, Lee, who is black, made jokes about white culture, was dismissive of white employees and excluded them. According to the lawsuit, he also made it clear that he wanted to hire black individuals and did not want to promote white females who may have had more qualification.

Kline took her concerns to human resources in February 2017 and met with two different people, the lawsuit states. Not long after, she was issued a final written warning due to “ongoing deficiencies in her conduct and/or performance,” according to the lawsuit. The warning included areas of improvement that she was to work on, the lawsuit states.

Kline claims in the lawsuit that though she complied with the terms of the warning, she received no further feedback and her employment with the Atlanta Hawks was terminated three weeks later.

Amanda Thompson, Kline’s lawyer, told ABC News in a statement that “no person should have to fear for his or her job, or experience hostility and adverse working conditions, because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” and added that “no person should be retaliated against for bringing such discrimination to the attention of his or her employer.”

“Our case is not a platform for what some call ‘reverse racism,'” Thompson said. “It is an attempt to obtain redress for a hard-working, loyal individual who lost her job because of the color of her skin and her complaints to management and HR about the mistreatment she experienced.”

In a statement to ABC News, the Atlanta 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.”

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