Sports

Indigenous consultant accuses NHL's Blackhawks of fraud, sexual harassment

CHICAGO — (AP) — A consultant the Chicago Blackhawks hired to improve relationships with American Indian tribes has filed a lawsuit accusing the team, its charity foundation and its CEO of fraud, breach of contract and sexual harassment.

Nina Sanders filed the civil action late Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. She alleges in the lawsuit that the Blackhawks were facing intense public pressure to change their name and logo in 2020. The team's CEO, Dan Wirtz, hired her that year to serve as a tribal liaison.

Wirtz promised that he would create positions for American Indians, buy land to give to the Sac and Fox Nation and change the team's logo if she decided to accept the job, according to the lawsuit. She took the job based on those promises, but Wirtz never followed through on any of it, the lawsuit alleges.

Sanders goes on to allege that she told her immediate boss that an employee had been sexually harassing her and tried to force her into his hotel room in 2021. The harassment continued into 2022, but nothing was ever done about it, according to the lawsuit. Sanders also maintains that she reported two other incidents of male employees groping women, but nothing was done.

Wirtz ended Sanders' contract last summer, according to the lawsuit.

A Blackhawks spokesperson didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon seeking comment.

The team said in a statement to WBBM-TV that the organization noted "operational issues" in Sanders' work, and external partners told the team that they didn't want to work with her. The team still extended her a new contract in 2023, but Sanders chose not to renew it. The team said it investigated Sanders' sexual harassment allegations and couldn't find enough evidence to substantiate them.

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