Los Angeles Sparks forward Dearica Hamby filed a gender discrimination complaint last week with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the WNBA and her former team, the Las Vegas Aces, according to the Washington Post and ESPN.
Hamby, whom the Aces traded in January to the Sparks, alleges that Las Vegas and coach Becky Hammon retaliated against her after she informed them of her pregnancy, creating an “abusive and hostile” work environment. Hamby also alleges that Hammon asked Hamby if she had planned her pregnancy, adding, per the Post, that Hammon told Hamby she was “not holding up (her) end of the bargain” after signing a two-year extension last year.
The reported complaint comes more than four months after the WNBA completed an investigation into allegations that Hamby had been discriminated against by the Aces and Hammon. Hamby, in a January Instagram post, said she felt “traumatized” by “disgusting comments” she says were made to her by her former employer.
In mid-May, the WNBA announced that it had suspended Hammon for two games without pay for violating league and team respect in the workplace policies. It also rescinded the Aces’ 2025 first-round draft pick for violating league rules regarding impermissible player benefits, saying that the violation involved promises in connection with an extension of Hamby’s contract.
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In the complaint filed last week, according to the Post, Hamby alleges that the league did not thoroughly investigate her allegations, adding that the failure to do so was “retaliation” for public statements made about the trade. In sharing its findings, the WNBA said it conducted interviews with 33 people and reviewed numerous texts, emails and other documents.
Speaking to reporters shortly after news of her suspension was announced in May, Hammon said the team made a “math and business” decision to trade Hamby because it “could get three bodies in for her one contract.”
“I had a great relationship with Hamby the whole time. Which is why she probably felt the way she did, you know, it feels like a betrayal. But like I said, it’s a crap part of my job, but somebody’s got to be the bearer of bad news.” When asked if the league specified how she violated the respect in the workplace policy, Hammon said: “Me asking about her pregnancy and a private conversation that I was having with Dearica. That’s what they said.”
The WNBPA issued a statement on Wednesday following the report of the complaint, with executive director Terri Carmichael Jackson saying, “In the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, player parents gained protections that ensured becoming a parent did not mean the end of a career. Obviously, these protections did not change the nature of this business. Any team can trade any player for any reason or no reason at all. But that reason cannot be on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, parental status, or pregnancy status.”
The WNBPA said in a May statement following the WNBA’s investigative that although incidents of misconduct are difficult to compare, “an honest view of the facts demonstrate that this penalty is far from appropriate.”
Neither the WNBA nor the Aces responded to requests for comment from The Athletic. However, upon news of Hammon’s suspension in May, the Aces, who will be taking part in the upcoming WNBA Finals, which begin on Sunday, said they were “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the league’s investigation and that they were “committed to supporting all of our players to the fullest extent allowed by the WNBA.”
(Photo: Steve Marcus / Getty)