Commanders' Daniel Snyder Declines Request to Appear at Workplace Misconduct Hearing

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 15, 2022

FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2018, file photo, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walks the sidelines before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in Tampa, Fla. (Jeff Haynes/AP Photo, File)
Jeff Haynes/AP Photo, File

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has declined a request to appear at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing to discuss the NFL franchise's workplace misconduct.

Axios' Hans Nichols reported Wednesday that Karen Patton Seymour, an attorney for Snyder, wrote in a letter to the committee that his legal team has concerns about due process.

"Although Mr. Snyder remains willing to cooperate with the Committee—as he has done in the past— for the reasons set forth below, he is unable to accept the Committee's invitation to testify at the scheduled hearing," Seymour wrote in the four-page letter.

While Snyder declined the invitation, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hear at the hearing virtually, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

In July 2021, the NFL fined the Washington organization $10 million following an independent review by Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Beth Wilkinson.

Goodell said the investigation found the franchise operated in a "highly unprofessional" manner, both in general and particularly toward women, within a workplace that saw bullying, intimidation and multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Questions were raised about why a written report detailing the results of the investigation was never released publicly.

In October, former employees of the NFL team delivered a letter to the league's Social Justice Committee seeking information from the review be released to the public, per ESPN's Seth Wickersham:

"While your working group was formed to address issues of racial justice in the league, you also have the ability to seek justice for the hundreds of women and men, such as us, who bravely came forward to share stories of harassment and abuse we experienced while employees of the [Washington Football Team]. The NFL should not be allowed to encourage employees to come forward at great personal and professional risk to speak to investigators, only to sweep the results of that investigation under the rug."

Goodell said the league couldn't release the results because it promised employees to protect the information provided during the probe.

Lisa Banks, an attorney who represents 40 former Commanders employees, described the idea her clients wanted anonymity as "false."

In April, the House Oversight and Reform Committee alleged Snyder's NFL franchise may have also engaged in a "potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct" that included withholding deposits from season-ticket holders and hiding money that was ticketed for the league's revenue-sharing system, per Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post.

Members of the Committee sent a letter June 1 requesting Snyder and Goodell appear at a June 22 hearing about the group's investigation into the franchise.

"Since we launched our investigation in October, the Committee's goal has been to uncover the truth about the culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Commanders, to hold accountable those responsible, and to better protect workers across the country," chairperson Carolyn Maloney said in a statement.

She added those efforts have been "met with obstruction from the Commanders and the NFL at every turn."

Goodell hasn't confirmed whether he'll appear at the hearing, but Jarrett Bell of USA Today reported Tuesday it "appears likely" the commissioner will testify.

Meanwhile, Washington's selection of Commanders as its new nickname in February ended a two-year rebranding process after Snyder succumbed to pressure to alter the moniker from the previous one which was a slur for Indigenous people. He'd long stated the prior name would "never change."

Snyder, a 57-year-old Maryland native, has owned the franchise since 1999. The team has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs during his tenure.