WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Commanders created a “toxic work culture” for more than two decades, “ignoring and downplaying sexual misconduct” and what former female employees described as hundreds of instances of sexual harassment by men at the top levels of the organization, according to a report published Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The misconduct included Commanders owner Dan Snyder, who is accused of inappropriately touching a former employee at a dinner, having staffers produce a video “of sexually suggestive footage of cheerleaders” and ordering that women auditioning to be cheerleaders walk on the field “while he and his friends gawked from his suite through binoculars,” according to the report.
The House committee opened its investigation in October 2021 after the NFL did not release a written report of its review of the team’s workplace culture. The league’s independent review by attorney Beth Wilkinson was completed in summer 2021 and resulted in a $10 million fine to the team.
Drawing from hearings, interviews and depositions, the House report concluded Snyder interfered in its investigation and Wilkinson’s review, which stemmed in 2020 from former employees alleging rampant sexual harassment by team executives.
The NFL was not shielded from criticism in the committee’s report, which said the league “misled the public about its handling of the Wilkinson Investigation” and “has not sought true accountability for those responsible.” The report also said the NFL doesn’t ensure “that its own workplaces are free from discrimination and harassment,” citing the fact that the NFL does not require teams to report confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements to league headquarters.
The NFL defended its cooperation with the House investigation in a statement on Thursday, saying it produced “nearly a half million pages of documents,” responded to written inquiries and “voluntarily participated” in the June 22 public hearing where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answered questions. The NFL also said the Commanders had put in place recommendations that Wilkinson suggested.
Attorneys for the Commanders and Snyder, John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, said in a statement the committee’s work was “one-sided” and there were “no new revelations” in Thursday’s report. They said the team is “proud of the progress it has made in recent years in establishing a welcoming and inclusive workplace, and it looks forward to future success, both on and off the field.”
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Written by: Editor