Fifteen former female employees told the Washington Post that they suffered sexual harassment and endured a toxic work culture while employed by the Washington Redskins NFL franchise. Fourteen of the women remained anonymous due to non-disclosure agreements signed with the team. Only Emily Applegate, 31, was identified by name.
The sexual harassment and verbal abuse alleged by the women came from members of owner Daniel Snyder’s inner circle of advisers. Three of the men identified – director of pro personnel Alex Santos, assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II, and senior Vice President and radio announcer for the team Larry Michael – all left their positions with the team within the last week after the Washington Post informed the Redskins of the allegations.
Santos is accused by a number of the former employees of inappropriate comments on their appearance and questioning them about their romantic interest in him. Mann’s text messages to two of the women showed him making remarks about whether or not one of the women had breast augmentation surgery and the other insinuating his sexual attraction to her. Michael was said to have made disparaging and overtly sexual remarks about a number of the women’s physical appearance.
Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman were also named by the women as participating in inappropriate behavior. Greene had left the team in May 2018 after reports that he had sold access to the Redskins Cheerleaders to high-paying luxury suite holders. He declined any comment. Gershman, who left the team in 2015, told the Washington Post about Applegate, “I barely even remember who she is.”
The allegations cover a period from 2006 to 2019. Snyder was owner of the team for that entire period, but no allegations have been made against either him or long-time former general manager Bruce Allen, who was relieved of his duties last year.
In response to the allegations the team released a statement. “The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” it read. “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 team retained attorney Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Walsh to conduct a thorough review of the team’s culture and policies concerning sexual misconduct. Wilkinson has experience in the world of sports, having represented the National Football League, NCAA, and Major League Baseball in litigation.
Ron Rivera was hired as the Redskins head coach at the beginning of the year. In a statement to ESPN Rivera stated his position on the team’s culture going forward. “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!”
These new revelations come after the team decided to change their Redskins nickname after coming under intense pressure from the public and sponsors due to the perceived racist nature of the name and logo. The team has not yet announced their new nickname or logo.