A group of 15 female former employees of the NFL’s Washington Redskins accused top team executives of sexual harassment and verbal abuse in a damning report on the team’s internal culture on Thursday.
Washington team employees accused of workplace misconduct include top player personnel executives Richard Mann III and Alex Santos, who were fired earlier this month, and Larry Michael, the team’s longtime radio play-by-play announcer, who announced his retirement on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported. The incidents were alleged to have occurred from 2006 to 2019.
The women allege they were subjected to unwanted sexual advances and remarks from team employees and that executives with knowledge of the harassment failed to take action. In some instances, the women say they were pushed to wear revealing clothes or flirt with sales clients.
"It was the most miserable experience of my life," one of the accusers, former Washington NFL team marketing coordinator Emily Applegate, told the Washington Post. "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 report surfaced hours after the Washington NFL team retained top attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct an internal review of its operations. Wilkinson said the probe would investigate "allegations of workplace misconduct.
Washington team owner Daniel Snyder declined the newspaper's requests for comment on the allegations. In a statement, the team said it "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 Washington NFL team said.
The accused employees include individuals described as members of Snyder's "inner circle." Michael was accused of commenting on the attractiveness of a female intern. Santos was accused of making inappropriate remarks of a sexual nature to team employees and reporting covering the franchise, while Mann was accused of commenting on whether a female employees' breasts were enhanced. All three men declined to comment.
Other accused individuals included former president of business operations Dennis Greene, who allegedly asked female employees to wear suggestive clothing, and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman, who was accused of verbal abuse and improper remarks. Greene declined comment and Gershman denied wrongdoing.
Snyder was not personally accused of any harassment but was alleged to have presided over a company culture that condoned verbal abuse of staff.
The allegations were another setback for a Washington organization that has dealt with intense scrutiny in recent days. The team announced earlier this week that it would retire the Redskins nickname and logo amid pressure from corporate sponsors. Critics have long argued the logo was racist.
The team’s three minority owners -- FedEx CEO Fred Smith, Black Diamond Capital CEO Robert Rothman and NVR Inc. Chairman Dwight Schar – are attempting to sell their stakes due to dissatisfaction with Snyder's leadership.