NEW YORK (AP) -The chairman of Madison Square Garden testified Tuesday that he fired a top executive after learning she tried to get subordinates to help build a sexual harassment case against New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas.
James Dolan told a jury in U.S. District Court that another company executive told him that MSG vice president Anucha Browne Sanders tampered with an internal investigation of her discrimination claims by meeting with her employees and trying to persuade them to support her.
He said he was also told before the January 2006 firing that she was demanding $6 million not to lodge a harassment complaint.
Dolan said he had spared Browne Sanders from being fired six months earlier when a company executive demanded she be let go because she was unable to take command of her department's finances.
Dolan said he recommended that Browne Sanders undergo additional training to learn how to handle new management responsibilities. He said she had offered her resignation in late November 2005 and was supposed to be looking for a new job when he was told she had interfered with the investigation.
The alleged interference, he said, ``would certainly have been grounds for a dismissal'' but wasn't the only reason.
``She was not capable of performing her duties and was not going to become capable of performing her duties,'' he said.
Dolan was asked by a lawyer for Browne Sanders if the company had learned that any employees had been improperly influenced by Browne Sanders, former vice president of marketing and business operations. Dolan said he didn't know, but it didn't matter because they depended on her for promotions and raises.
The lawyer then asked him if any of the employees called to testify on behalf of MSG might be improperly influenced to support the company because they depended on the Garden for promotion and raises.
``I don't believe that occurred,'' he testified. ``I'd like to believe that didn't occur.''
Browne Sanders, a former Northwestern basketball star, was hired by the Knicks in late 2000 and was fired in January 2006, months after complaining to MSG management that she was mistreated by the basketball Hall of Famer.
As part of her lawsuit, Browne Sanders has asked for her job back, saying MSG retaliated against her by firing her for speaking out about sexual harassment. The Garden contends she was dismissed in January 2006 for a failure to ``fulfill professional responsibilities.''
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