Penny Toler, the former Los Angeles Sparks general manager, is suing the WNBA team, denying that she was fired for using a racial slur — but instead, she was fired for raising complaints about inappropriate sexual relationships involving the team president and a managing partner.
According to The Sparks, Toler was fired on Oct. 4 after launching into an angry rant, which reportedly included a racial slur following a playoff game.
Toler says that the team dismissed her “after raising complaints about the workplace conduct” of former team president Christine Simmons and team managing partner and governor Eric Holoman. Toler says the pair “were engaged in an extra-marital affair” during Simmons’ tenure as team president. Toler also states in the suit there was a double-standard for male employees.
“It looks like she was singled out and treated differently because she was a woman,” Toler’s lawyer Dawn Collins told The Associated Press, referring to Toler’s postgame comments. “Coaches speak to their players to get them fired up, many coaches use harsher language and far more controversial language. If the term is not OK, it’s not OK for everyone.”
“I had a brief discussion with Christine,” told the news platform. “I was so embarrassed and told her I hope it stops. It’s really putting us in a bad situation. The organization would face a backlash, but also the whole league in general.”
Toler said she was treated differently than Sparks’ male employees, including Agler. Toler said the former coach not only verbally abused players and was not disciplined for it, but also had a sexually inappropriate relationship with an unidentified player.