CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two officials suspended by NASCAR are accused in a $225 million lawsuit of exposing themselves to a former co-worker, the Associated Press has learned.
Tim Knox and Bud Moore have been placed on indefinite administrative paid leave.
NASCAR will not reveal the identities of the officials sent home Friday from Kentucky Speedway, but a person familiar with the investigation confirmed to AP on Saturday that Knox and Moore were suspended. The person requested anonymity because NASCAR's investigation is ongoing.
NASCAR did not give a reason for the men's suspension, and chairman Brian France cautioned against assuming the officials are being punished for allegations made in the lawsuit.
"Obviously we found some violations in our policy, but I would not jump to conclusions to assume that all of the allegations that were made are accurate," France said at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.
"Even if we take action on any official in this investigation — we might discover something entirely different that has been going on that has nothing to do with the claim, this lawsuit, but still is in violation of our policy. That would get you in trouble with us."
Mauricia Grant filed her suit Tuesday, alleging 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination during her time as a technical inspector for NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series.
Grant, who is black, claims her October 2007 firing was retaliation for complaining about the way she was treated on the job from her January 2005 hiring.
NASCAR sent a team of investigators from its human resources and legal offices to Kentucky and did 27 interviews away from the track Thursday and Friday. Knox and Moore were found to have possibly engaged in behavior that violated NASCAR policy.
Grant's suit accuses both men of exposing themselves to her.
The lawsuit contends that at an April 2007 race in Texas, Knox exposed himself in the hospitality suite of their hotel at an officials gathering hosted by Nationwide Series director Joe Balash.
Moore is accused of coming out of his hotel room in Memphis in October 2006 clad only in a towel. The suit says he asked Grant if she wanted to see what was under the towel, opened it, then ducked behind a trash can.
In another incident, Grant claims Moore asked her how it felt to be black. Her suit claims Grant described being black as "a privilege," and Moore feigned confusion and wondered aloud "how can she be proud of being black?"
Moore also is accused of making lewd sexual advances toward Grant.
France has not addressed the validity of Grant's claims, but reiterated Saturday that the former official never made a formal complaint or followed NASCAR policy in reporting harassment. In fact, France said the investigation has shown she never had anything negative to say about her job.
"We would have investigated this claim instantly, if it had been brought to our attention. She chose to make this about money and about a lawsuit, and we'll deal with that," France said. "So far, we have found she just didn't report anything to anybody. Quite the opposite. She was very pleased with her colleagues, and most of her comments that we have heard were that she liked her job, enjoyed being there, liked the camaraderie of the other officials."
France also insisted NASCAR has a very open path for reporting complaints, with multiple options.
"If any employee has an issue, you can e-mail me directly," he said. "There are dozens of way to go about this."
Grant has said she followed the chain of command all the way to Balash, but stopped short of telling human resources because she was reprimanded by that department for a separate incident two weeks after lodging her complaint. She said she viewed the reprimand, which included a threat of termination, as retaliation for complaining to Balash.
Balash was unavailable for comment following practice Saturday morning for the Nationwide Series race at Kentucky.
Named in the suit are Balash, assistant series director Mike Dolan, two supervisors, NASCAR's senior manager for business relations, the human resources director and 17 officials who were Grant's co-workers.
Meanwhile, France said NASCAR held a pair of meetings in Michigan and Kentucky to review its policies with its officials and remind them of the standards to which they are held.
"Obviously, we wanted to make sure, once again, they knew exactly what NASCAR's policy was in terms of behavior, harassment and certainly racial discrimination of any kind," France said.