Current and former employees of Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia’s mortgage lending company, United Wholesale Mortgage, are alleging acts of “racial disparities, sexism and bullying” by managers within the organization, according to a story from Bloomberg.
The report comes months after Ishbia assumed controlling interest in the Suns and Phoenix Mercury from Robert Sarver, who was pushed out following an NBA investigation into his racist and misogynistic behavior.
You can view Bloomberg’s story in its entirety here.
It should be noted none of the current or former United Wholesale Mortgage employees interviewed by Bloomberg implicated Ishbia himself. But the story implicates managers for berating subordinates and openly making sexually suggestive remarks, contributing to what they described as a hostile work environment.
Sarver, who announced his intention to sell the Suns in December, was found to use the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others.” He also “engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees” and “engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them.”
Ishbia’s purchase of the Suns is hoped to be an end to wrongdoings under Sarver and a positive work environment for employees affected by the negative regime.
The report for Ishbia’s company revealed more than two dozen people who worked at United Wholesale Mortgage in recent years described a “high-pressure, locker-room environment” at the company’s offices in Pontiac, Michigan, and detailed scenarios involving cocaine use, mistreatment of Black workers and “leering and sexually offensive remarks” among sales staff.
United Wholesale Mortgage Chief Marketing Officer Sarah DeCiantis said in a statement that any attempt to portray a negative culture for the company is “false and misleading.” The statement later reads that in nearly 40 years of operation with 20,000 team members, there is nothing “that suggests this story is anything more than disgruntled individuals or a competitor pushing a false narrative to the media.”
Multiple accounts in the story describe cocaine use by managers. United Wholesale Mortgage’s lawyers refuted the claim and said there are 667 cameras on the company’s campus, in which “security has not observed or encountered drug sales.”
However, the story reads that United Wholesale Mortgage security called local police twice to report cocaine found on campus, according to police reports.
Ishbia’s lone controversial report came after he was rumored to be in the process of hiring NBA legend Isiah Thomas for a prominent front office role. Thomas was found to have sexually harassed a former team executive with the New York Knicks in 2007, which is similar behavior to that of Sarver. Thomas is an independent director for United Wholesale Mortgage’s nine-member board.
Another controversial hire from Ishbia is detailed in the story. Ishbia’s former teammate at Michigan State, Mateen Cleaves, was hired as a leadership development coach in Jan. 2019, when he was awaiting trial in a sexual-assault case.
Cleaves was later acquitted but employees reportedly felt uncomfortable around Cleaves, who had one-on-one meetings at the company’s campus.