Two attorneys representing more than a dozen former Washington Football Team employees called on the NFL to immediately suspend owner Dan Snyder and launch an independent investigation in wake of the 55-year-old being accused of humiliating a former cheerleader and other allegations of misconduct that have surfaced regarding the team’s workplace.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, attorneys Lisa J. Banks and Debra Katz said Snyder “has been permitted to lead an organization that has been permeated with misogyny, sexual harassment and routine abuse of female employees with impunity.” The attorneys said their clients were subjected to sexual harassment, sexism and abuse at the “highest levels of the organization, including by owner Dan Snyder.”
Banks and Katz called on the league to launch a separate investigation from the one being conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson. And they want Snyder suspended pending the outcome.
The NFL said Wednesday, hours after a new Washington Post article in which an additional 25 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the team, that it condemned the allegations described in the Post story. But it did not announce a new investigation as it considers Wilkinson to be independent.
Banks and Katz said their clients “do not feel safe” in speaking to investigators hired by Snyder, adding that the clients don’t trust the current investigation. They called on the NFL to also direct Snyder from taking legal action against anyone willing to come forward and for the team to release anyone subjected to a non-disclosure agreement.
“The Washington Football Team’s “abhorrent” work environment may have been an open secret for decades, but that secret is out,” Banks and Katz wrote in the letter. “As the public looks to the NFL to see how it will respond, the NFL must not simply issue reassuring public statements, and allow a serial abuser like Dan Snyder to continue to lead this team.
“If the league values women, its product, and its fans, it must send a clear message that it will not tolerate this pervasive sexual harassment and exploitation. Words alone are not enough. If the NFL doesn’t stand up now, it never will.”
Snyder has denied the allegations, calling the Washington Post article a “hit job.” In a separate statement released Wednesday, the team said it was “deeply distressed by these terrible allegations” and committed to resolving them.
The Washington Times reached out to a team spokesman regarding Banks and Katz’ letter and is awaiting a response.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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