Sports

Female ex-staffers accuse Washington, D.C., NFL team officials of sexual harassment, verbal abuse

Key Points
  • A report in The Washington Post says 15 women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by officials with the National Football League team in Washington, D.C.
  • According to the Post, club employees including ex-radio announcer Larry Michael and former director of pro personnel Alex Santos are accused of "improper behavior" toward women, including female journalists covering the team.
  • "The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously," the team told the Post. "While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly."
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder prior to the National Football League game between the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins on September 29, 2019 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Rich Graessle | Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A report in The Washington Post says 15 women are alleging sexual harassment and verbal abuse by officials of the National Football League team in Washington, D.C.

According to the Post, club employees including former radio announcer Larry Michael and former director of pro personnel Alex Santos are accused of "improper behavior" toward women, including female journalists covering the team.

The Post story also alleges team owner Dan Snyder demeaned a former executive who was a "cheerleader in college."

Michael retired from his position Wednesday, according to a statement from him. Santos and assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann were both fired by the team Saturday.

Only one of the 15 women spoke on the record, the Post said, adding that the other women spoke on the condition of anonymity because some of them signed nondisclosure agreements with the team and they fear legal reprisals. The Post's story does not say whether any of the women filed official complaints with the team or any outside entity.

"The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously," the team told the Post. "While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly."

When contacted for comment, the Washington team referred CNBC to its comments in the Post article. Former employees Michael, Santos and Mann could not be reached for comment.

New team coach Ron Rivera told The Washington Post, "We're trying to create a new culture here. We're hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we're going, as opposed to where we've been."

The team also hired Washington D.C.-based litigation firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP to complete an "independent review of the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct," founding partner Beth Wilkinson confirmed in an email to CNBC.

Thursday's report in the Post isn't the first time the club has been in the headlines for alleged mistreatment of women. A 2018 New York Times article reported that team cheerleaders said the organization used them to entertain sponsors at an adults-only resort while on a Costa Rica trip in 2013.

In a statement Friday morning, the NFL called the allegations "serious, disturbing and contrary" to the league's values.

"Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment," the statement said. "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."

On Monday, the team dropped its name and logo after pressure from advertisers and critics who said it was demeaning to Native Americans. Sponsors including Bank of America, Nike and Pepsi threatened to cut ties with the team if it didn't address the controversial name.

The Washington Post also reported that three minority owners, who make up 40% of the team's ownership group, were exploring options to sell their stakes. The limited partners include Frederick Smith, the CEO of FedEx, which owns the naming rights to the team's home stadium in Maryland.

The team is worth $3.4 billion and is ranked seventh on Forbes' 2019 most valuable NFL franchises list.

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This story was updated to reflect the statement provided by the NFL. .