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Warriors' Monta Willis Sued for Sexual Harassment

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 21, 2011 2:27 PM

A Golden State Warriors player has been hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit. The Monta Ellis lawsuit claims the NBA player caught a former team employee off-guard by sending her sext messages and a photo of his genitals.

The alleged harassment began in November 2010 and led to the Warriors employee, Erika Ross Smith, being fired, the Associated Press reports.

Smith worked for the Warriors' community relations department. She claims Ellis sent sexually explicit text messages to her cell phone several times a day, the AP reports.

One of the sexts included a photo of Ellis' genitals, according to the Monta Ellis lawsuit. Other messages called Smith "sexy" and said "I want to be with you," the suit states.

Ellis' wife eventually learned about the sexting and complained to the Warriors' front office, according to the suit. In response, Warriors executives put Smith in a different job and later fired her, the Monta Ellis suit alleges.

Smith's suit seeks unspecified damages for workplace retaliation, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Workplace retaliation occurs when a company takes action against an employee for complaining about harassment. The retaliation could include being fired, demoted, or reassigned -- all of which Smith may claim happened to her.

Wrongful termination accuses an employer of firing a worker for an illegal reason, such as retaliation. Emotional distress requires intentional, outrageous conduct that leads to a severe emotional reaction.

Monta Ellis and the Warriors may be able to fight the suit by showing Smith was fired or reassigned for other reasons, unrelated to Ellis' alleged harassment or Smith's complaints.

Ellis' agent and a Warriors spokesman declined to comment about the Monta Ellis lawsuit. Ellis, 26, was the Warriors' leading scorer last season and is known as one of the quieter members of the team.

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