Suns employee cites toxic team culture before resigning

There is a dark cloud over the Phoenix Suns organization right now as reports surface that a longtime employee resigned last month citing retaliation and bullying.

According to ESPN, now-former employee Melissa Fender Panagiotakopoulos wrote a letter to the Suns’ management group in May “challenging them to address what she said is a toxic and misogynistic workplace culture.” 

Panagiotakopoulos, who held a senior managerial role with the team since 2014, cited in her letter “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.”

She also cited gender discrimination, saying: “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?”

Panagiotakopoulos added that she sent a memo to HR regarding these issues back in November 2021, but she was met with retaliative behavior from her coworkers.

As ESPN points out, these allegations have surfaced while the Suns and majority owner Robert Sarver are under investigation for racist and misogynistic practices in the workplace.

The Suns’ ownership group said in a memo to ESPN: 

“We have been made aware of allegations by a former employee and are investigating them, consistent with our Respect in the Workplace Policy. 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.”

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