Female Phoenix Suns Employee Quits, Citing Bullying And Misogyny

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A female Phoenix Suns employee is resigning from her position in the organization, citing a toxic workplace and unfair advantages granted to male co-workers over female employees.

A report by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes details that Melissa Fender Panagiotakopoulos had operated as senior premium experience manager for the Suns since 2014 and has been with the organization since 2007 — ultimately submitting her resignation in May.

Panagiotakopoulos stated that she previously visited with the Suns’ human resources to attest to unfair advantages granted to male co-workers, including better pay and work-from-home benefits not allowed to Panagiotakopoulos. She soon began to notice a difference in treatment after the whistleblowing.

Panagiotakopoulos first reached out to Suns brass after an ESPN report in November highlighted workplace misconduct fostered by Suns owner Robert Sarver. Sarver has been the team owner since 2004.

After feeling bullied as a result of her feedback, Panagiotakopoulos sent a resignation email on May 20 to 16 ownership members highlighting her concerns.

“Is it a coincidence that I have been the only mother in the entire sales organization for the last 15 years? Is it because certain males were being paid more in equivalent roles?” stated in the resignation.

She added that the nepotism became apparent through “inherent conflicts of interest with managers’ ability to receive commissions, cherry-pick deals, revise suite lease terms to line their own pockets, and operate in a different manner than the rest of the sales organization with no true consistent systems or oversight.”

“My job has grown more intolerable and toxic than ever,” Panagiotakopoulos added.

“Among other things,” she stated in her memo, “they excluded me from client dinners, scrutinized my every move, decision, and email with excruciating levels of micromanagement.”

The ESPN report from November 2021 pointed toward internal claims of misogyny and racism, spearheaded by Sarver.

On one occasion referenced in the article, Sarver was told by former head coach Earl Watson not to repeat the N-word as the Suns owner carelessly quoted Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.

“We have been made aware of allegations by a former employee and are investigating them, consistent with our Respect in the Workplace Policy,” the Suns Legacy Partners organization told ESPN regarding Panagiotakopoulos’ complaints. “The Phoenix Suns are committed to creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive work environment free of discrimination and harassment, and we do not tolerate retaliation for the reporting of alleged misconduct.”

“As a working mother, when I requested the same flexibility, I was denied,” Panagiotakopoulos wrote in her resignation.

“I have observed these kinds of inequities throughout the Suns organization, and I have personally experienced the kind of gender-based misconduct described in recent media reports. And when I attempted to share my concerns with HR and leadership (including individuals at the highest level), I was dismissed – and once was even told to ‘take a cold shower.'”

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.


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  1. “…. senior premium experience manager” … WTF ???
    Unrelated to the validity of any/all of her claims … the mind reels at what a “senior (not a junior) premium experience manager” job description looks like. Do all NBA teams have such positions? Do colleges offer majors in doing that? Sounds like a fancy title for “usherette”.

  2. Yawn…another workplace lawsuit that was being worked up over a period of time, and the world keeps spinning. This single mother will soon be able to retire on her settlement money. Congratulations 🍾🎊🎈 you’ll get what you were looking for and will never be happy in your perpetually unhappy, me-the-victim world view. You’ll have plenty of supporters who share that worldview so you’ll feel vindicated. Have fun being miserable!

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