Shane Heal is suing the Sydney Flames in the Federal Court after being suspended amid an investigation into claims he bullied players. The Aussie basketball great has been notably absent from his role as Flames head coach since January.
On Tuesday it emerged that Heal has been suspended while the Flames investigate allegations of bullying levelled against him. The 52-year-old has responded by launching a lawsuit against the club.
Heal filed Federal Court proceedings last week seeking penalties and orders preventing his termination from the Flames. In a statement released on Tuesday, the club criticised Heal's lawsuit.
"The Sydney Flames maintain the current legal proceedings instigated by Mr Heal are simply an effort to delay or block the Sydney Flames from bringing its current process to a conclusion," the club said. "What sits at the heart of this matter is player safety and welfare.
"That is our sole concern at this time, and we will always maintain focus on that. The Sydney Flames see no merit in Mr Heal's current legal manoeuvring and will defend Mr Heal's Court proceedings vigorously and to its full extent."
Multiple players approached the club with bullying complaints against Heal in early January. The Flames opted to carry out its own independent investigation and suspended the then-head coach while the investigation too place. The Flames have received the results of the investigation and have issued Heal with a show cause notice ahead of possibly firing him.
In his lawsuit, Heal claims the Flames broke employment laws when they suspending him, requiring that he remain absent from the workplace, and making findings of misconduct against him on February 3. Sydney Flames owner Paul Smith and president Victoria Denholm are also alleged to have been involved in these breaches.
Shyla Heal released by Sydney Flames
Earlier this month, Heal's daughter Shyla was released from the Flames for "personal reasons" after being absent for three-straight games. Shyla has since joined the Townsville Fire, where she will play out the remainder of the season.
"The club has cleared the way for Shyla to seek other playing opportunities," the Flames said at the time. "The Flames would like to thank Shyla for her contribution to our club over the past two seasons and wish her all the best in her future endeavours."
Shyla joined the Flames in 2021 after leaving WNBA team Chicago Sky, who selected her with the eighth overall pick of that year's draft. The Sky traded Heal to the Dallas Wings in June of 2021, with Dallas immediately waiving her.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.