Image Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP
The Washington Football Team has had more problems than a little bit in recent years.
With the controversy surrounding its overtly racist former name “Redskins” now over, the team from the District by way of Landover, MD is still reeling from sexual harassment allegations.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 26, 2020
Now the NFL has stepped in to oversee the investigation, reportedly at the request of team owner Dan Synder.
Recently, The Washington Football Team launched an independent third-party investigation into allegations about our culture and incidents of harassment,” said Synder in a statement. “In conversations with Commissioner Goodell, Tanya (Snyder’s wife) and I suggested that the NFL assume full oversight of the investigation so that the results are thorough, complete and trusted by the fans, the players, our employees and the public,” Snyder said. “I appreciate Commissioner Goodell agreeing to our suggestion and the entire Washington Football Team remains committed to fully cooperating with all aspects of the investigation.”
On the recommendation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Washington hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the organization.
However, at least a dozen former Washington employees have retained counsel and on Monday met with Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations. The former staffers sent the league a letter with multiple demands last week.
Secret cheerleader videos. A conduct policy for only female office employees. Sexual harassment victim told to avoid accused or quit. This is the NFL franchise Dan Snyder built, employees say. W/ @TheWillHobson @lizclarketweet @DDaltonBennett @Alice_Crites https://t.co/YSqhyRTtBN
— Beth Reinhard (@bethreinhard) August 26, 2020
One of the demands: that the league should conduct an independent investigation into the organization. Also that Dan Snyder should be suspended pending the outcome. The attorneys also called for Snyder’s removal if the investigation corroborates the claims made by the former employees.
This all came after a detailed story about sexual harassment charges published last month by the Washington Post. Three employees were let go and two more had already left the organization.
However, it didn’t stop there.
The Post then followed up last week with another story with even more allegations. Apparently, the creep factor entered the marketing room as reports indicated that employees were asked to create a behind-the-scenes video featuring clips of partially nude team cheerleaders for Snyder.
I feel sick for these women.
More allegations – including an inexcusable, perverted violation of rights and privacy – against the Washington football team, Dan Snyder, Larry Michael & more.https://t.co/O2Pg8aBSLF pic.twitter.com/cQAGusZcAl
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) August 26, 2020
The clips were pulled from a 2008 swimsuit calendar shoot. According to reports, Snyder later denied the charges, saying in a statement, “I did not request their creation and I never saw them.”
Reportedly, at least 40 women have talked with The Post about being sexually harassed while working for the Washington Football Team.
The NFL convinced Snyder to release employees or former employees from any non-disclosure agreement for purposes of speaking with the investigators. Now that the accusers are free to speak without consequences, it will be interesting to see how bad it really was in the organization.
The attorneys representing at least a dozen former Washington employees, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz released a statement on that development.
We communicated our strong belief that without this type of transparency, there can be no real accountability,” read the statement from Banks and Katz. “The victims of these stories should be able to tell their stories when and how they wish to do so, without threat of legal action.”
With the #MeToo movement still alive and well, Dan Synder will have much more to think about than name changes and the box score. He will soon find out if he will still sit at the helm of his football franchise.