The Washington Football Team, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, has been a controversial organization for many years. However, in July 2020, an explosive report from The Washington Post revealed that 15 women who worked for the team had been sexually harassed and verbally abused by team executives. This led to an investigation by the National Football League (NFL) and prompted team owner Dan Snyder to promise significant changes.
The initial report from The Washington Post detailed a toxic work environment within the Washington Football Team, where women were subjected to sexual harassment and verbal abuse from high-ranking team executives. The report detailed instances of inappropriate comments, unwanted advances, and inappropriate touching. The women who spoke to the Post said that they feared retaliation if they reported the harassment, and many said that they had left the team because of the toxic culture.
The report also revealed that the team had paid out settlements to several former employees who had accused team personnel of sexual harassment. The settlements included non-disclosure agreements, preventing the former employees from speaking publicly about their experiences.
In response to the report, the NFL launched an investigation into the Washington Football Team. The investigation was led by Beth Wilkinson, a prominent lawyer who has worked on high-profile cases such as the Enron scandal and the investigation into the Benghazi attack.
Wilkinson’s investigation lasted several months and involved interviews with more than 150 people, including current and former employees of the Washington Football Team. The findings of the investigation were presented to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who released a statement in July 2021.
Goodell’s statement said that the investigation had found that the Washington Football Team had “serious and widespread issues” with harassment and misconduct, particularly towards women. Goodell also stated that the team had failed to properly address these issues, and that there was a “lack of accountability” within the organization.
As a result of the investigation, the NFL fined the Washington Football Team $10 million, with the money going to support organizations that work to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. The team was also required to create new policies and procedures to address workplace misconduct, including the appointment of a new CEO and an independent investigator to oversee these policies.
In addition, team owner Dan Snyder agreed to step back from day-to-day operations of the team and focus on the creation of a new stadium, while his wife Tanya Snyder took over as co-CEO. Tanya Snyder had previously been involved with the team’s charitable foundation, and her appointment was seen as a step towards improving the team’s culture.
The investigation also resulted in several high-profile departures from the team. Team president Bruce Allen, who had been with the team for a decade, was fired in December 2019, before the Post’s report was published. Larry Michael, the team’s longtime radio announcer, retired abruptly in July 2020, shortly before the report was published. Alex Santos, the team’s director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann II, the assistant director of pro personnel, were both fired in July 2020.
The investigation into the Washington Football Team has been a significant moment in the NFL’s history, as it has shed light on the prevalence of harassment and misconduct within the league. While the league has taken steps to address these issues in recent years, the Washington Football Team’s case has shown that there is still work to be done.
The investigation has also highlighted the importance of strong leadership and accountability within organizations. The NFL’s decision to fine the team and require significant changes in policy and leadership sends a message to other teams that harassment and misconduct will not be tolerated. It also puts pressure on other organizations to take a hard look at their own cultures and policies.