Over a dozen women have come forward to report a toxic work environment within the Washington Redskins football team. At least 15 women and two journalists who were on assignment covering the team accuse staffers throughout the organization of a variety of offenses that include verbal abuse and sexual harassment.
The Washington Post broke the story in July 2020, and since then, some employees accused of abuse have been fired or have voluntarily left the team. The stories from women allege abuse that dates as far back as 2006. The team’s Assistant Director of Pro Personnel was let go after the Post published screenshots of text messages showing he made inappropriate sexual comments to a female employee. Some allegations revealed that sales staff were encouraged to wear clothing that was revealing in order to flirt with suite owners, tying the harassment directly to job expectations and job performance.
In another instance, the team’s former Senior Vice President of Content was accused of speaking about the attractiveness of a college intern in 2018. The comments were revealed when a team video accidentally recorded his words. The senior VP has since retired from the team.
The owner and the former team president have hired an attorney to conduct an internal investigation into the culture their organization has fostered. The independent attorney is being tasked with investigating “allegations of workplace misconduct.”
In comments since the report came out, Head Coach Ron Rivera outlined that the team has an “open door policy with no retribution.” Despite this policy, the women that came forward detailed an environment where allegations like the ones they shared with would not be taken seriously, and in some cases, laughed at. Numerous women recount not feeling safe going to a supervisor for fear of retaliation or even greater harassment and abuse.
A Culture of Silence
Of the 15 women who have come forward, the reporting shows that 14 of them have signed non-disclosure agreements. Because of this, the Post was not able to use any of their names in order to protect them from legal ramifications.
Emily Applegate, the one woman who came forward who is not under a non-disclosure agreement, was a marketing coordinator for the team for almost two years. She recounts being cursed at, being called derogatory slurs, and being belittled by her male supervisor.
Part of the Problem
According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), the National Football League has earned a C- for its gender hiring practices. The report shows that within the past few years, the score for gender hiring practices has gone down, showing a real problem throughout the league.
The report also revealed that only 35% of the workforce throughout all the football team franchises is female, with that number shrinking down to 29% for women who hold positions of vice president or above. The report didn’t measure each franchise separately, meaning the data could be skewed.
While it is not surprising that the National Football League is a male-dominated organization, the commission outlines that the hiring practices themselves need to be changed to improve the score.
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A Pattern of Offenses
The news of the sexual harassment allegations comes just one week after the Washington Redskins announced in July 2020 that it would retire the name “Redskins” after years of protests by critics who call the name offensive to Native Americans.
Some attribute the sudden shift in company culture to new leadership within the organization, and while some critics are skeptical, the football team’s leadership reiterated its dedication to their core values and called for transparency within the team.
While the team has indicated that it will change its name, no formal announcement of a new name has been made.
We Can Help
Toxic work environments like the one fostered at the Washington Redskins harm the men and women who work there. Sometimes, the abuse can be physical, but regardless of the type of abuse, it has no place in our society.
If you experience any type of abuse or harassment at your place of work, our attorneys are available to discuss your options. Speak to one of our compassionate attorneys at (800) 614-2067 now for a no-cost consultation. We don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement on your behalf.