The Chicago Blackhawks have issued a strong statement after Nina Sanders, an outside contractor specializing in Native American relations, filed a lawsuit accusing them of fraud and sexual harassment. The team claims that it only severed ties with Sanders after she expressed frustration over her working situation and opted out of an agreed-upon extension.

Sanders’ lawsuit claims explicitly that one Blackhawks employee made unwanted advances toward her and sent explicit images to her through Snapchat. She also claimed to have witnessed multiple incidents in which male employees made similar advances to other women working for the team. She considered her attempts to report these incidents as the reason the team cut ties with her, which directly conflicted with the team’s account of their agreement.

In their statement, the Blackhawks claim that they conducted a thorough investigation and did not find any evidence of internal wrongdoing.

“Based on the information available to us, we found insufficient evidence to substantiate her claims,” the team’s statement read. “Of note, the persons identified by Ms. Sanders in your question are not, and have never been, independent contractors with nor employees of the Chicago Blackhawks.”

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In addition to denying Sanders’ claims, the Blackhawks also attempted to clarify their working relationship with Sanders, who was hired in 2020 to assist the team in formalizing relationships with local indigenous groups, specifically the Sac and Fox Nation. Despite claiming to have offered Sanders a contract extension in 2023, the team also criticized her job performance and claimed that she did not mention her issues with the team until she denied an extension.

“After contract negotiations dissolved, Ms. Sanders shared her frustrations with the organization over the working relationship and introduced noted allegations, none of which had been shared by Ms. Sanders at any time during her engagement with the Chicago Blackhawks,” the team said in its statement.

In attempting to clarify Sanders’ minimal role in the Blackhawks’ Native American relations campaign and criticizing her professional abilities, the team is creating a vastly different account than the one Sanders provided in her lawsuit. The allegations of sexual harassment are not the only thing that the team will have to fight against in court, as Sanders is claiming that her complaints relating to those incidents were the motivation for the team to violate the terms of her contract.

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