A former Sacramento Kings official is suing the team, alleging she was fired after reporting sexual harassment by a colleague during a Las Vegas road trip in August 2021.
Sidney Haydel, who began working for the team in July 2021 as director of operations for the Stockton Kings and player development coordinator for the Sacramento team, filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court alleging wrongful termination, sexual harassment, whistle blower retaliation and other claims.
Haydel’s suit claims that while on the trip on Aug. 5, 2021, during a summer tournament a colleague, Akachi Okugo, then an assistant coach for the Stockton team, “strongly encouraged” her to join the team and staffers at an after-dinner party.
“Okugo made numerous unwelcome advances towards Plaintiff and pressed his body against hers while asking her if she had a boyfriend,” the lawsuit states. “Stockton Kings Head Coach Bobby Jackson and Assistant Coach Jimmy Alapag witnessed Okugo’s harassment of Plaintiff, but they did nothing to address it or try to stop it.
“To Plaintiffs horror, Okugo put his fingers in Haydel’s mouth.”
The lawsuit, which was first reported by the Sacramento Business Journal, says Haydel reported the incident to Stockton Kings General Manager Paul Johnson, who told her Okugo “had a reputation for this type of behavior.”
Okugo is not named as a defender in the suit.
The suit also says Kings staffer Lindsay Harding, the only other woman present, reported the incident to Jackson.
The Kings’ labor and employment lawyer, Terry Wills, issued a statement saying the team had not yet been served with the suit but was aware of it and denied the allegations.
“The accusations of wrongdoing are false and will be addressed through the appropriate legal process,” the statement read.
Okugo’s cellphone voicemail was full Friday and not accepting messages, and he did not respond to a text message.
Haydel left Las Vegas early because of the incident, and was later told by Johnson “to be nicer,” the lawsuit says. Haydel was then contacted by Stacy Wegzyn, the Kings vice president for human resources, who said she “did not want to escalate Plaintiffs complaint and indicated that it did not need to be escalated,” the suit says.
“Plaintiff asked Wegzyn to implement sexual harassment training, of which there was none, to protect the three females on the staff, including Plaintiff,” the suit says. “Wegzyn’s response was that she was ‘working on it.’”
Haydel continued to try to have the team’s human resources department work on sexual harassment training but “met with resistance,” the suit says.
In October 2021, someone broke into her car at the team training facility and ransacked it, the suit says, and Haydel eventually told Wegzyn she did not feel safe in her working environment and was given permission to work remotely.
The suit says that in December 2021 Johnson told Haydel that Okugo had resigned, although she believes the Kings terminated him.
The team pressured Haydel after that to travel with the team and she began receiving “unwanted attention, including jealous remarks and intimidation, from a team member, which she attempted to ignore,” the suit says.
“In March, 2022, Plaintiff reported the ongoing issue with the player to Johnson, who directed her to contact HR,” the suit says. “Plaintiff informed Wegzyn that the player issue needed to be handled before the upcoming 12-day road trip out of state.
“Wegzyn’s response was that she would have Johnson ‘talk’ to the player. Plaintiffs emotional distress increased and she was very alarmed when Johnson informed her that he had revealed her identity to the player as the one who complained about him.”
On April 5, Haydel met with Jackson, who apologized for “not having her back,” the suit says. But the coach added that he had never been told why Haydel was not physically present for work and that he assumed she “was skipping out on work,” the suit says.
A week later, on April 11, Wegzyn and team General Manager Monte McNair met with her and told her she was being fired, the suit says.
This story was originally published July 22, 2022 4:21 PM.