A former leading agent at the powerhouse talent agency CAA Sports allegedly ordered an underling to shave his back, inappropriately touched her, threw a chair at her, called her a “wet back,” and forced her to sleep in the same bed as him during a work trip.
Those are just some of the allegations in an explosive lawsuit filed against the A-list agency, which also accuses CAA Sports managers of allowing the bad behavior to carry on under their watch.
The court documents filed in L.A. Superior Court by former agents Stephanie Lopez and Rick Montz takes aim at CAA Sports, its parent company Creative Artists Agency, the former head of the company’s tennis division, Steven Heumann, who is a co-head of its basketball division, and top agent Amit Naor, who has represented some of the biggest names in tennis including Novak Djokovic, Marat Safin, and Milos Raonic.
The complaint claims CAA’s management proceeded to undermine the professional reputation and careers of Lopez and Montz and that the organization retaliated against the pair for speaking up and wrongfully terminated Montz for blowing the whistle on Naor.
CAA and its representatives pushed back on some—but not all—of these claims. In a statement, the agency said it “diligently followed the specific policies and processes it has in place to protect employees and uphold the agency’s high standards for a safe, supportive work environment. The legal claims that Ms. Lopez and Rick Montz have asserted against CAA are without merit.”
But in a letter to The Daily Beast, Andrew Brettler, an attorney representing CAA, acknowledged that “Ms. Lopez was subjected to inexcusable behavior at the hands of former CAA agent, Mr. Naor.”
Brettler added that the company “immediately initiated a thorough investigation. While the agency could verify some, but not all, of Ms. Lopez’s specific allegations, Mr. Naor was terminated as a result of the investigation.” Naor’s termination was first reported by Sports Business Journal. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that from the moment Naor joined CAA in 2008 he bullied colleagues and his behavior resulted in three of CAA’s most prestigious clients, including Andy Murray, firing the agency because of Naor’s “lack of professionalism and dishonest financial dealings.”
“Naor also took every opportunity to make inappropriate sexual advances on Stephanie, belittle her work with the division, and make lewd and inappropriate comments to Stephanie about her, colleagues, and clients,” the lawsuit states.
According to the complaint, Naor, a former professional tennis player from Israel, called Lopez to let her know “that he was sexually frustrated, he really wanted sex, that he was attracted to her, and that she should rendezvous with him that night.” This conversation was on speakerphone and overheard by Montz, the complaint alleges.
In one alleged incident detailed in the complaint, Montz says he had to step in physically to prevent Naor from assaulting a fellow agent, Matthew Elefant.
Montz, who signed top talent including Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, also witnessed Naor’s poor behavior and alerted management, according to the complaint.
“Rick had observed Naor sexually harassing Stephanie as well as engaging in dishonest business practises, and reported this to CAA Tennis Department Head, Defendant Steven Heumann, who did nothing with this information other than to distance himself from Rick.”
In a statement, CAA said, “There is ample evidence that Ms. Lopez and Mr. Montz were heard at every opportunity, their concerns were taken seriously, and CAA left no stone unturned during its investigations into their complaints.”
Lopez says she was told by Naor that if she were to complain to higher-ups about his actions he would ensure she would be fired.
According to the complaint, Naor asked personal favors of Lopez, including a request to ship golf clubs for his son’s golf club in Florida.
Seemingly enraged that the clubs would not arrive on time, Naor lashed out, calling Lopez a “wet back” and saying that he should “strap the golf clubs to Stephanie’s back so that she can drag them to Florida herself,” the complaint states.
On a trip to Wimbledon in 2015, Naor is alleged to have thrown a chair at Lopez that missed her, hitting a wall and leaving her in tears.
By March 2016, according to the complaint, Naor’s sexually charged advances had escalated and he was sending her heart and kiss emojis by text while calling her names like “gorgeous” and “darling.” In another exchange Naor told her, “Wow, you’re looking gorgeous. You’ve lost weight but now you need bigger boobs.”
In another bizarre incident at a tennis tournament in Indian Wells in 2016, Naor and Lopez were sitting on a couch at a CAA rented house when Naor allegedly “proceeded to take off Stephanie’s sock and started massaging Stephanie’s foot. Rick and Elefant entered the room and witnessed the scene and then left without saying a word. After Amit finally let go of Stephanie’s foot, he put his foot up onto Stephanie’s leg and said, ‘ok now your turn,’” according to the complaint. “Seeing that Stephanie resisted giving him a foot massage, Naor laughed and put his foot back onto the floor.”
In an alleged incident at the Miami Open in 2016 when Naor and Lopez were sitting with colleagues in the player box, Naor became so enraged that his client, Raonic, was losing that he allegedly violently slapped Lopez on the arm and forearm.
According to the court papers, Lopez confronted Naor after the match and asked him “Amit, why did you hit me?” He then allegedly grabbed Stephanie’s upper arms with both hands, shook her frantically and yelled, “Oh my God, you are such a pussy. You are so sensitive, such a pussy,” and began laughing.
During a different trip to Wimbledon in June 2016, Naor allegedly forced Lopez to share a bed with him at the CAA premises, the lawsuit alleges.
“All the beds for the night had been claimed and Naor said that Stephanie had to sleep in a bed with him for the night.”
When Lopez refused Naor exploded in rage and started yelling at her.
“NO, NO, NO, you’re not going to sleep on the couch. Come downstairs, you’re sharing with me!”
Lopez reluctantly followed his command and ended up in bed with him but did her best to keep her distance.
“Once Naor got under the covers he started to run his feet against Stephanie’s feet. Naor spoke aloud to himself and Stephanie heard him say “no, no, no, I’m not going to cheat. Guilty feeling, guilty feeling, guilty feeling.”
According to the complaint, Naor’s harassment became more aggressive. He repeatedly demanded Lopez “shave my back, bitch” in return for advice on how to handle clients.
On another work trip—this time to Miami—Naor allegedly texted Lopez to find out her hotel room and then turned up there unannounced.
“Once Stephanie answered her hotel room, he saw that she was limping because she had tore a calf muscle at the time. On seeing this, Naor commanded Stephanie to lie face down on the hotel bed. Naor, under pretext that Stephanie required assistance, proceeded to massage Stephanie’s leg.”
Naor allegedly later called Lopez to threaten her over her close friendship with Montz and told her if she “remained loyal to Rick, she would risk getting fired.”
Montz alleges that he sounded the alarm about Naor’s behavior towards Lopez in March 2015, meeting with Heumann to warn him Naor was sexually harassing Lopez and hurting the company’s reputation.
The complaint claims that in early August 2017 Lopez reported Naor to Heumann, the tennis division chief, for sexual harassment. According to the complaint, she was told by him, “Amit is my brother,” “I love him,” and “he has a big heart.”
He also allegedly admonished Lopez for reporting the harassment, telling her, “Shame on you, I didn’t have to promote you, I didn’t have to give you a raise, I didn’t have to give you a corporate card. Shame on you for coming forward now.”
Alarmed by the response, Lopez alleges she soon raised the matter with Howie Nuchow, the head of CAA Sports. He allegedly told her that she was “just taking it out of context.”
CAA said in a statement, “Any suggestion that Ms. Lopez and/or Mr. Montz were ignored, brushed off, or punished in any way is absurd and not supported by facts.”
After Lopez had filed her complaint, Montz allegedly emailed Nuchow in an effort to get his attention. “Rick was sounding alarm bells as to the way he was being treated because he felt that he was being punished and retaliated against for having supported Stephanie’s sexual harassment report against Naor,” the complaint states.
Montz claims Naor retaliated against him, telling colleagues that he was gay and terminally ill.
The lawsuit states that one of Montz’s colleagues told him that Naor had asked him to write an email to get him fired. CAA then further retaliated against him by undermining his trust with clients.
In their statement, CAA said they “fully investigated Ms. Lopez’s and Mr. Montz’s subsequent complaints concerning retaliation and determined, unequivocally, that there was no retaliation by any employee.
“Mr. Montz was rightfully terminated for not satisfactorily meeting basic job requirements, including showing up to work, which makes his alternate theories demonstrably and opportunistically false.”
In a statement, Montz said, “CAA was my home for 11 years. Had we had a more savvy leadership, our group would have continued to grow with exciting momentum. But there is no higher loyalty than to the truth. We need to stand up for each other when it’s the right thing to do. Even if that means risking friendships, and in my case my job.”
After Naor was fired by CAA in late 2017, Lopez was allegedly told she would be reporting to Heumann—something she told the company’s human resources department she was not comfortable with.
The lawsuit alleges that even though CAA had publicly stated Naor was no longer working for them, “Naor continued to pitch CAA clients as his own and even appeared generating business for CAA as an unemployed employee.” CAA’s attorney disputed this, telling The Daily Beast that “Mr. Naor began working as a manager, and while he and CAA may have shared certain clients, there no longer was a working relationship.”
After the complaint was filed the parties agreed to head for arbitration.
The attorney representing CAA told The Daily Beast it had recently closed its tennis division.
“That decision was wholly unrelated to any so-called ‘fallout from Naor’s sexual harassment,’” the lawyer said.