Madison Square Garden took a beating after a federal jury awarded $11.6 million yesterday to Anucha Browne Sanders, the former Knicks executive who accused the World’s Most Famous Arena of sexual harassment.
But the Garden and its lawyers won’t have much time to regroup: They face another explosive sexual harassment trial.
Courtney Prince, the former captain of the Ranger City Skaters, paints the Garden as an out-of-control frat house in a sexual harassment lawsuit that could go to trial within the next few months. Her attorney, Kathleen Peratis, applauded the jury in the Browne Sanders case yesterday for taking a stand against workplace harassment.
“It sends a signal that ordinary people find this kind of behavior seriously wrong,” Peratis said. “Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue and a real roadblock for women.”
Prince’s complaint contains several bombshells, including the charge that a Rangers public relations executive and a former New York Times reporter covering the team suggested she have a threesome with them at a Greenwich Village bar.
Prince alleges that MSG brass ordered her to tell other skaters to rev up their sex appeal by padding their bras, taking diet pills and wearing fake eyelashes and hairpieces. MSG officials quizzed her on which skaters were promiscuous, she also contends.
Browne Sanders also testified two weeks ago during her trial that she had learned that Rangers executives maintained a book that listed sexual positions they wanted to try out on the Rangers’ cheerleading troupe.
When Prince advised other skaters to avoid men in the organization she described as sexual predators, MSG officials fired her, she says.
Prince filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in August 2004 suggested that the Garden implement sexual harassment training and adopt an anti-discrimination policy, as well as pay Prince up to $800,000 in lost salary, attorney fees and compensatory damages. MSG officials rejected the deal, and Prince filed her suit in federal court in New York in October 2004.
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“Courtney knows what Anucha Browne Sanders went through because she went through it herself,” Peratis said. “They make up everything they can think of. They smear and slander the plaintiff and hope it sticks.”
Peratis said she didn’t know if the embarrassment of Browne Sanders’ trial will force the Garden to take a long, hard look at settling with Prince out of court.
“We are always amenable to an amiable and sensible resolution,” Peratis said.