Washington NFL team accused of sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture

15 women accuse former Washington Redskins team employees of inappropriate comments, texts and more

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Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder stands on the field before a preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and Redskins at FedExField on August 29, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Just after Washington’s NFL team agreed to change its name from the Washington Redskins, it’s under fire again as 15 women say that they were sexually propositioned and harrassed while working for the team.

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Rumors that The Washington Post was working on a “blockbuster” story surfaced on social media Wednesday night. This afternoon, the paper released the story, detailing a culture of harassment that included inappropriate texts and comments, propositions from a married team executive, and an overall culture of workplace sexism and misogyny.

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A hand-painted concrete barrier stands in the parking lot of FedEx Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins team July 13, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. The team announced last week that owner Daniel Snyder and coach Ron Rivera are working on finding a replacement for its racist name and logo after 87 years. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Emily Applegate, 31, is the only one of the 15 women who would speak on the record because others either signed NDA’s or were fearful of reprisal. Applegate says she worked as a marketing coordinator for a year before leaving the team and abandoning her plan to continue a career in sports.

“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” Applegate told the Post. “And 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.”

Although Washington’s owner Dan Snyder, 55, is not alleged to have participated in the harassment, the women believe that he fostered a culture that overlooked it and maintained an ineffectual HR department that minimized complaints when they were made.

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The allegations range from 2006 – 2019 and include the revelation that a staircase that leads to team headquarters with a plexiglass frame could allow men to look up the skirts of women standing at the top, to the married scouting director, Alex Santos, propositioning multiple women, including The Athletic reporter Rhiannon Walker, who had a girlfriend at the time. Walker filed a complaint in 2019.

Santos was fired last week.

Larry Michael was the voice of the Redskins as its play-by-play announcer for the last 16 years. He was also a senior vice president in charge of content, overseeing the online and video departments.

After allegations of inappropriate comments to and about women, including a college intern working for the team, Michael was apporached about the allegations in the piece earlier this week. He then resigned.

“After 16 great years my time with the organization is over,” he said in a statement. “On to the next chapter.”

All of the men accused of harrassment or any other inappropriate behavior were let go or no longer work for the team.

Snyder hired attorney Beth Wilkinson and her firm, Wilkinson Walsh to “conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”

“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously … 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,” the statement continued.

New Washington coach, Ron Rivera, who came from the Carolina Panthers and has been tasked with the team’s rebuilding effort under young quarterback Dwayne Haskins, has so far dealt with more scandals than football business. Rivera says that he’s committed to the changes that the team needs to evolve.

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“We’re trying to create a new culture here,” Rivera told the Post. “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.”

Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, and is arguably one of the NFL’s least-liked team owners, has not yet responded to the article.

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