The Washington Redskins are facing even more scrutiny this week. Just days after announcing that they were retiring their controversial name and logo, the NFL team was accused of fostering an environment where at least 15 female employees were subjected to sexual harassment.
Several former employees spoke with The Washington Post for a bombshell report about the alleged harassment and verbal abuse at the franchise. According to the report, 15 female employees requested that the team release them from their non-disclosure agreements so that they could speak on the record of their experiences. Their request was denied.
One woman, Emily Applegate, opted to speak to the newspaper on the record anyway. As the only female who didn’t request anonymity, she detailed her experiences before leaving in 2015.
“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” the 31-year-old said. “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.”
She said that she was verbally abused by a former chief operating officer who called her “f*cking stupid” and told her to wear tight clothing when meeting with clients “so the men in the room have something to look at.”
Another executive allegedly turned a blind eye when a wealthy suite holder grabbed her friend’s rear. This, and other abusive behavior, was ignored or even condoned by top executives, she said.
Applegate and the 14 other females say that the abuse ranged from unwelcome advances or comments, to suggestions that they flirt with important clients. The harassment is alleged to have taken place from 2006 to 2019, much of that time under Daniel Snyder’s watch.
Team owner Snyder denied the Washington Post’s requests for comment, but three employees accused of bad behavior suddenly left the organization after the paper made the franchise aware of the complaints. Among those who left are Larry Michael, the famous radio voice for the team, and Alex Santos, a director of pro personnel.
Michael was caught on a hot mic making comments of a sexual nature about a young intern.
Richard Mann, who was the assistant director of pro personnel, was fired last week. He is accused of making suggestive comments.
The team also said that it was hiring a legal team to do a review of the claims and establish guidelines going forward.
“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.
Julia Payne, who worked for the Clinton administration, said that she worked for the team briefly in the early 2000s, and while she didn’t witness the sexual harassment being reported, she did say that it was a “toxic” and “hostile” environment and wasn’t surprised that the women may not want to contact HR given the behavior of the team’s owner.