Lawsuit says NBA Tried to Force Out Working Mothers with Young Children

By Judy Greenwald

Oct. 23, 2012

A gender discrimination lawsuit filed against the National Basketball Association Inc. and two of its subsidiaries Oct. 23 charges that it deliberately changed the work schedule of one of its units in order to drive out mothers with young children.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal district court in New York in Brynn Cohn v. National Basketball Association Inc., NBA Entertainment Inc., and NBA Properties Inc., in September 2010, the schedule of the New York-based NBA’s Department of Creative Services’ print group schedule was changed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to noon to 8 p.m. two days a week “in order to purge the department of women with young children.”

The lawsuit said the plaintiff, Secaucus, New Jersey-based Cohn, and two others in the print group were forced to resign because of the additional child care expenses the schedule would have required. “There was no business justification for the extended hours,” for the group, whose previous work schedule was reinstated after the three women resigned, according to the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, “The NBA pays lip service to gender equality, claiming that ‘equal employment opportunity is a fundamental principle at the NBA.’ In reality, however, the NBA is openly hostile to working mothers like Ms. Cohn. In the department where Ms. Cohn worked, women with young children were routinely met with eye-rolling and snide comments, and denied the same pay and promotion opportunities as other employees.”

The lawsuit charges the NBA and its subsidiaries with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and New Jersey state statutes. The lawsuit seeks front and back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees, cost and expenses.

An NBA spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lawsuit was filed on Cohn’s behalf by New York-based law firm Sanford Heisler L.L.P. A gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the firm on behalf of current and former female public relations professionals of a major French advertising company and one of its units was granted conditional class action certification in June.

Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email

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Judy Greenwald writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management.

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