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Donald Sterling

In: People

Submitted By cfilteau10
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Final Paper on Donald Sterling
Ethics MGT511X
Caitlin Filteau

Case Background Donald Sterling came into the ethical spotlight in April 2014, with a voice recording of him talking to his then mistress, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”Don’t put him [Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”( Since then Mr. Sterling has been banned from the league for life and he was fined $2.5 million dollars. He has no authority over the Clippers and can’t attend any NBA game. NBA commissioner Adam Silver also stated that he would move to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. He stated he would do this based on “willful violation of the rules”, and it would require the consent of three-quarters of the other NBA owners. ( On May 26th Sterling made a statement denying all of the charges against him and he refused to sell the Clippers. Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, reached a deal to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 Billion dollars on May 29th. Shelly Sterling agreed not to sue the NBA and to assure the league against other suits possibly brought on by her husband. The next day her husband sued the NBA for $1 billion dollars stating it had violated his constitutional rights and antitrust laws. On June 4th Mr. Sterling’s attorney announced the Mr. Sterling wasn’t going to sue the NBA after all and that he agreed to the sale of the Clippers for $2 billion dollars. The sale of the Clippers is still pending a majority vote of the league’s owners to approve. (

Background on Donald Sterling Donald Sterling was born April 26, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. Donald attended California State University, class of 1956, and Southwestern University School of Law, class of 1960. Donald Sterling married Rochelle Stein in 1955 and had three children with her. He began his own practice as a divorce and personal injury attorney in 1961.He then made his mark on the real estate world in the 1960’s by buying the Lesser Towers in LA, which are a pair of apartment buildings, and named them Sterling Towers. He also started a buy-and-hold approach on real estate in the Southern California market that gave him large assets in that area. Donald Sterling has had multiple lawsuits against him.
He has had three discrimination lawsuits against him in 2003, 2006, and 2009. The 2003 case was from the housing rights center in LA. It was filing a housing discrimination case against Mr. Sterling on behalf of 18 tenants. The lawsuit included numerous racist statements that were made by Mr. Sterling to his employees. Some of these statements were, “Hispanics just smoke and hang around the building”, and “black people smell and attract vermin”. Mr. Sterling also was caught with the supposed attempt to rent to Korean tenants saying, “they will pay the rent and live in whatever conditions I give them”. The final terms for the tenants were private but the judge did award their attorney $4.9 million in attorney fee’s.
The 2006 case was the U.S. Department of Justice suing Mr. Sterling for housing discrimination, because they believed that he was filling some of his apartment buildings based on race. In 2009 Mr. Sterling agreed to pay a fine of $2.7 million to settle claims by the Justice Department and Davin Day. That fine was paid for allegedly discriminating against blacks, Hispanics, and people with children.
Lastly in February of 2009, Mr. Sterling was sued by a former Clippers executive for employment discrimination based on age and race. A statement made to the executive that brought this lawsuit was that Mr. Sterling stated that he wanted to fill his team with, “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach”. Mr. Sterling also has had two sexual harassment lawsuits against him in 1996, and 2003. The lawsuit brought on in 1996 was from a property management consultant who also did work for the Clippers. She sued Mr. Sterling for sexual harassment stating that he repeatedly offered her money for sex and asked her to recruit sexual partners for him. She quit her job because of these accusations. Mr. Sterling countersued and they reached a private settlement in 1998.
The lawsuit in 2003 was brought on by a woman who was fired in 2002 as a property supervisor. She sued for sexual harassment because of, “unwanted and offensive physical conduct”. The woman lost her case two years later by jury. (
Ethical Concerns & Assessment There are two concepts from our text that I believe help to break down the ethical downfall of Donald Sterling as a once, possibly kind man. The first part is in chapter one and has to do with the decision guide and standards of conduct. The standards of conduct, refers to the principals and rules governing a particular community. These standards help to determine what the community considers morally appropriate and inappropriate actions and help the community articulate its moral rules. (Wicks, Freeman, Werhane & Martin, 2010) We as a society have our own standards of conduct and how we believe people should act in civilized society. The NBA also has their own standards of conduct on how their owners, managers, coaches, players, and staff should act. Donald Sterling broke these standards. He acted unethical by stating racist comments to his girlfriend, asking her not to bring black people to games and not to broadcast that she associates with them. By these statements becoming public it went against what the NBA has in their constitution and also what keeping him could do to the league. Forbes put it well saying, “the NBA is a league that votes owners into its ranks, in that way it’s effectively a club. Like most clubs, its membership clauses include guidance on ethical behavior and ways you can forfeit your rights.” ( The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, who is in his first year on the job, had a very tough decision whether or not to fine Mr. Sterling or to use an alternative form of punishment. The other ethical concept from our text that I believe has to do with the Donald Sterling case is in chapter 6 Marketing. In chapter 6 it talks about STP or segmentation, targeting, and positioning. It says that marketing has its own examples of privacy issues that are twofold. One of those issues states that, the process of seeking the information: that is, both the company is profiling the customer and the methods they employ to gather the information. (Wicks, Freeman, Werhane & Martin, 2010) Donald Sterling profiled his tenants on their color or ethnic background. He decided that in some areas he could charge more, or not rent to certain ethnic groups or families. He also used STP while in the NBA. He didn’t want his mistress being seen with any black people at his games because of how it would look on him.
I believe the main dilemma brought against Mr. Sterling was justified because of the NBA’s constitution and its laws for owners and also because of our society and how most people see things. Because of what Mr. Sterling said in his rant I agree that he shouldn’t own his own a NBA team and be in charge of such a public organization.
Personal Conclusions Well there are many things I could say about Donald Sterling, but most of them would not be appropriate for a final paper. Personally I believe that the man is a racist, old, bigot. There have been years and years of accusations of racism against this man and nothing came to a big bang until he was recorded in a private conversation, and that conversation became public. Because of this conversation, he was finally called out for his apparent true feelings towards certain ethnic backgrounds. One question I do have is why did it take so long? With the past cases against him for racist renting practices, why didn’t the NBA look to get rid of him years ago? If they had done more like fined him for these cases and looked into more accusations, then maybe this wouldn’t have been the big spectacle it became. Because of this case, this racist man is becoming richer because someone is buying his team for $2 billion dollars! That in its self is just not ethically right. I do feel a little scared for our society though, after this dilemma came to light. Just looking at the mere fact that a person was having a private conversation with a person they trusted, and was recorded without their knowledge, and that recording became public, they lost everything. We use to be able to speak our minds with family and friends, but that is looking that it may not be the case anymore. Hypothetically speaking, if I’m speaking to my best friend that I can’t stand my boss because he is known to sleep around the office and she records me and plays it for my boss, I’m probably going to get fired. That shouldn’t happen in my mind. Why, because it was a PRIVATE conversation. Privacy is something that we are going to need to take extremely seriously now a days. Chuck Gallagher said, “As bad as his comments were, they reflect comments that should have never been recorded and, done so, made public. What he thinks in his head is misguided, but not all that uncommon when you consider his age, gender, and the times was reared in”. (
An Opposing View Personally with all that has been brought to light with this case, I don’t believe that there are any opposing views for this case. The only thing that I could see people wanting Donald Sterling to be able to keep his team is the mere fact that his conversation was private and recorded without his knowledge. The fact that he lost his team for a privately recorded conversation in my mind is unethical and I believe others may feel the same. Chuck Gallagher stated that, “who are we to cast the first stone? Honestly, how many of us have said things, especially in anger, that we would gladly take back”.(
Final Thoughts Even though this case was all over the news a couple of months ago is was extremely interesting to research. The news only likes to state one point of view on a subject. Reading into the multiple past problems of Mr. Sterling was eye opening. He should have either been out of the NBA because of all his past racist and sexual harassment lawsuits against him or he should have been being pushed out. I believe they let this man own and run a team for too long. This man needs some life lessons on ethics. I mean this man is Jewish and he probably knows the racism brought on against the Jew’s by Hitler and how horrible that was, and he is doing the same thing! Just without the killing, of course. Do I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks, no, not with a man like Donald Sterling. I honestly believe he is too far gone for any actual change to happen in his heart.
This course was very hard for me. I didn’t realize how in depth ethics really went. To me I just thought ethics was moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior. The information from stakeholders, to leadership, to management, and environment was very interesting and sometimes hard to process. I did find myself re-reading information to make sure I understood it correctly. I do feel like I understand the business side to ethics much better than when I started the class. I plan on keeping the text book to reference if needed. Thank you for a very informative and detailed course.

Donald Sterling. (2014, March 6). Wikipedia. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from

Donald Sterling Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved June 3, 2014, from

ETHICAL? Donald Sterling's private comments create a public consequence?. (n.d.). Chuck Gallagher. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from

Forbes. (n.d.). #997 Donald Sterling. Forbes. Retrieved June 5, 2014, from

Golliver, B. (n.d.). NBA investigating Clippers owner Donald Sterling for alleged racist comments | The Point Forward - The Point Forward SIcom RSS. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from

Igel, L. (2014, April 29). Why Adam Silver Was Right In Banning Donald Sterling From The NBA. Forbes. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from

Tag Archives: Donald Sterling. (n.d.). Ethics Alarms. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from

Wicks, A. C., Freeman, R. E., Werhane, P. H., & Martin, K. E. (2010). Business ethics: a managerial approach. Boston: Prentice Hall.

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