Former Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson Fires Back with Lawsuit following sexual harassment report
The former General manager of Dallas Mavericks, Donnie Nelson, issued the Mavericks over his June 2021 sacking. Nelson alleges that the owner of the team Mark Cuban sacked him as retaliation for reporting that his nephew was harassed and assaulted sexually by Jason Lutin, the Chief of staff to Cuban while interviewing her for a job role. Nelson also claimed that Cuban attempted to pay him off, offering him a whopping $52 million to pen a confidentiality agreement and pull out his wrongful termination claim.
Cuban, who might as well be betting on NBA games, however denied all of the allegations put forward by Nelson, Cuban wrote, "Everything in that filing is a lie, we did multiple complete investigations and the only person that did not live up to the standards of the Dallas Mavericks was Mr. Nelson. He was fired as a result. He was well aware of the investigation. He refused to fully participate. I will say it again, everything he said is a lie."
The incident has been referred to concerns his nephew, who has since not been identified, and Lutin, who ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. refers to as Cuban's "right-hand man." On February 16, 2020, Nelson's nephew followed Nelson, Lutin, to lunch and many others to discuss job opportunities with the Mavericks. After lunch, the lawsuit suggests that Lutin invited Nelson's nephew to his hotel room to talk more about the job opportunities.
According to ESPN, "Lutin asked Nelson's nephew to sit next to him on the bed and then sexually harassed and sexually assaulted an unsuspecting, vulnerable LGBTQ young man seeking employment with the Mavericks," the lawsuit states. "Lutin's numerous policy violations and indiscretions were clearly in breach of the Mavericks supposed 'zero-tolerance' policy."
Nelson didn't know about the alleged incident between Lutin and his nephew until five months after it happened, after a settlement had been agreed that involved a few dollars exchanging hands and a confidentiality agreement, as per the lawsuit. Nelson suggests in the lawsuit that he then decided to confront Cuban about the incident in the middle of ongoing talks about a 10-year extension of his contract.
The lawsuit claim that Cuban ended up offering Donnie Nelson a 10-year contract extension worth $66 million, and claims there's a strong and suspicious link between Nelson confronting Cuban about the incident and Cuban finally withdrawing the contract renewal earlier offered.
In December, the former Mavericks GM, also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that since he performed his job responsibilities pretty well, Cuban’s only reason to fire him has to be due to his report about Lutin.
ESPN claims, "There were absolutely no mistakes, warnings ... or job performance issues with Nelson between the time he reported Lutin's sexual harassment and sexual predatory proclivities and the time period that Mark Cuban revoked the 10-year offer and began a campaign of retaliation," Nelson's complaint says.
A few hours after the news of Nelson’s lawsuit was reported, the franchise released a statement confirming some of what Cuban said in response to allegations by Nelson and went as far as claiming the long-serving GM refused to cooperate with a team assigned to investigate the incident into what they called "inappropriate actions" by him.
“Allegations that were brought against Jason Lutin were promptly and thoroughly investigated by outside investigators and counsel. The NBA was immediately made aware of the allegations. The claims were determined to be fabricated and the matter was resolved.
Separately, Mr. Nelson refused to cooperate with the investigators that were looking into his behavior.
Nelson's claims of being terminated because of retaliation are completely unfounded and the lawsuit filed today is baseless and full of lies.
Mr. Nelson is fully aware, as is the NBA, of the reasons for his termination at the end of the 2020-2021 season.
The Mays have always intended to hold private the inappropriate actions of Donnie Nelson that led to his termination."