NFL vows action after 'disturbing' harassment claims
Washington (AFP) –
The NFL vowed Friday to act on findings from an owner-financed investigation of the Washington Redskins after 15 women said they had been sexually harassed while employed by the team.
The Washington Post reported the detailed allegations Thursday, prompting team owner Dan Snyder to hire Washington law firm Wilkinson Walsh to conduct a review of the team's culture and policies as well as workplace misconduct.
Rather than launching its own probe, the NFL said it will meet with the investigating attorneys paid for by Snyder, who was not among the executives accused of inappropriate behavior, and act upon their findings.
"These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL's values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment," the league said in a statement on its website.
"Washington has engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. The club has pledged that it will give its full cooperation to the investigator and we expect the club and all employees to do so.
"We will meet with the attorneys upon the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on the findings."
The newspaper report said the harassment took place from 2006 through 2019 and led to the departure of three team employees in the past week.
Emily Applegate, the only woman among the 15 identified by the Post, said the club was indifferent when a female employee alleged she had been groped by a wealthy stadium suite holder.
She also said she was verbally abused by a former senior executive while being ordered to wear tight-fitting clothes during meetings with clients.
Applegate told the Post her time with the Redskins was "the most miserable experience of my life" and added, "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."
New Washington coach Ron Rivera released a statement saying everyone needed to understand the team's policy against harassment moving forward, noting he had a personal stake in the matter.
"Biggest thing is that we have to move forward from this and make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open door policy with no retribution," Rivera said.
"Plus, my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this."
The Redskins, who announced Monday they were dropping the controversial name following pressure from sponsors, said the review would "help the team set new employee standards for the future."
© 2020 AFP