A woman who works as an NBA security official has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit saying she was removed from an assignment to the 2012 Summer Games in London after she spurned an advance from Connecticut and women's national coach Geno Auriemma.
Kelley Hardwick is suing Auriemma, the NBA and USA Basketball. The suit was filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Hardwick is a former detective with the New York police department who started working for the NBA in security in 2002. She says in the suit that as part of her job duties, she managed security for the U.S. women at international basketball events, including the Olympics in 2004 and 2008.
It was at one of these tournaments, a 2009 trip to Russia, that she says she met Auriemma. According to the lawsuit, one night after Auriemma wedged his way into a conversation with Hardwick and a co-worker in a hotel lounge, he followed her to the door of her room and tried to kiss her.
"Plaintiff was startled but, utilizing her training as a police officer and security professional, reacted quickly by shoving him away and stating, 'What are you doing? You better check yourself before you get hurt!'" the suit says.
Hardwick says in the suit she told supervisors about the incident, but that nothing was done. In subsequent international trips, according to the suit, Auriemma avoided her but was uncomfortable with her being there.
In March, Hardwick says she learned of a conference call involving NBA officials in which Auriemma demanded that she be taken off the security assignment for the London Games.
In a statement issued through UConn, Auriemma said, "I was unaware of this lawsuit until hearing about it through a media report today and will therefore have no comment." Auriemma is one of the elite coaches in women's basketball and has guided the Huskies to seven national titles — including four perfect seasons.
As part of the lawsuit, Hardwick also says that the NBA discriminated against her due to her gender, that she was denied promotions, raises, and employment opportunities because she was a woman.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Hardwick is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as back pay.