A report by The Washington Post paints sexual harassment as an integral thread in the corporate culture of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
The Post said it interviewed more than 40 people, including 15 alleged victims, 14 of whom would not allow The Post to reveal their identity.
Emily Applegate, 31, who was a marketing coordinator with the team from 2014 to 2015, went on the record to call her time with the team “the most miserable experience of my life. And we all tolerated it because we knew if we complained — and they reminded us of this — there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in a heartbeat.”
The Post account summed up the experiences of Applegate and others this way: “[T]heir dream job of working in the NFL came with what they characterized as relentless sexual harassment and verbal abuse that was ignored — and, in some cases, condoned — by top team executives.”
Exclusive: Fifteen women who worked for Redskins allege sexual harassment by former scouts and members of owner Daniel Snyder’s inner circle https://t.co/MwMTOFupF9
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 16, 2020
The Post said that after its reporters outlined to club executives what they were told by the alleged victims, three employees left the Redskins, including Larry Michael, who broadcast the team’s games on radio, and Alex Santos, the team’s director of pro personnel.
The report said the harassment fell into two main categories: unwanted advances from men who were either in the team’s employ or considered important to top executives, and actions to objectify women, including comments to wear certain clothing or flirt with men with whom the team wanted to strike deals.
No reported allegations were directed at former team president Bruce Allen, but Applegate doubted he was ignorant of the workplace climate. “I would assume Bruce [Allen] knew because he sat 30 feet away from me … and saw me sobbing at my desk several times every week,” she said.
One former employee said team owner Daniel Snyder — who the Post said would not be interviewed for its report — bears some blame.
“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” said Julia Payne, who was vice president of communications for the team for a short time in 2003.
Payne said she did not witness sexual harassment but deplored the team’s culture.
“With such a toxic, mood-driven environment and the owner behaving like he does, how could anyone think these women would go to HR?” she said.
The Post report contains a series of allegations from women regarding improper comments and texts directed at various women.
The Redskins said in a statement that attorney Beth Wilkinson and her firm, Wilkinson Walsh, had been hired “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously. … While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly,” the team said.
In one allegation, Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel, is accused of texting a female employee and telling her that he and his co-workers were debating whether her breasts were the product of surgery. He then directly asked the employee that question, according to text messages published by The Post. Mann has since been fired.
“Unfortunately that was (is?) the culture,” one alleged victim texted to The Post. “So we felt like we had to roll with it.”
In a phone interview, new coach Ron Rivera would not look back.
“We’re trying to create a new culture here,” Rivera said. “We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going as opposed to where we’ve been.”
The Post report came days after the team announced that it would be dropping its longtime Native American logo and changing its name.
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