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Former Raiders Employees Say Team Enabled Harassment, Hostile Work Environment

Adam WellsJune 26, 2022

Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Las Vegas Raiders employees have alleged that the organization enabled a toxic culture of harassment and a hostile work environment.

Briana Erickson and Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday that multiple former employees came forward with allegations of the franchise, both in Oakland and in Las Vegas, leaving them "feeling unsupported, underpaid and at risk of retaliation if they voiced concerns."

One woman who used to work for the Raiders called the organization a "boys club and the Mob wrapped in one."

Nicolle Reeder, who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Raiders in 2020 for violating California labor law, told Erickson and Akers that working for the club was "kind of like survival of the fittest."

Erickson and Review-Journal colleague Jeff German detailed the series of lawsuits former employees have made against the Raiders dating back to 2013.

The lawsuits were filed by people including former scouts Bruce Kebric and Jon Kingdon, several Raiderettes, former assistant coach Tom Shaw and former human resources employee Nicole Adams.

The Raiders have seen an exodus of high-profile employees in the past year. Head coach Jon Gruden resigned in October following a report from Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman of the New York Times that he used misogynistic and anti-gay language in a series of emails over a seven-year period that ended in 2018.

Raiders owner Mark Davis announced in May that interim president Dan Ventrelle was no longer with the organization.

In a statement to Akers, Ventrelle said he was fired for informing the NFL about "multiple written complaints from employees that Mark created a hostile work environment and engaged in other potential misconduct."

Between July and November 2021, senior vice president Mark Shearer, president Marc Badain, chief financial officer Ed Villanueva, controller Araxie Grant and senior vice president Brandon Doll left the Raiders.

Adams, a former HR employee, told Erickson and Akers that Ventrelle "was involved in every situation that happened, every situation of harassment, every situation of a hostile working condition."

One employee at The Raider Image team retail store said he was watched on surveillance video during shifts to monitor productivity, once got "criticized for blowing his nose" and was denied overtime pay.

Adams said she was "directed to create job descriptions that allowed the company to skirt paying overtime for workers."

Some women, including Adams, said they were told how to dress and would get singled out for "distracting" men who worked at the office.

"Those things were inappropriate because I had boobs and a butt," Adams said. "I just started wearing pants because I felt like I couldn't wear skirts or dresses, or I would be seen as being provocative."

Adams, who is Black, accused the Raiders of racial discrimination and retaliating against her when she reported other employees' concerns about pay disparity and unequal treatment. She said that despite working in human resources, she had "no power" to protect people from being "retaliated against or pushed out" by the organization.

One anonymous source told Erickson and Akers that Davis is at the center of the Raiders' issues because of how he runs the club.

"If you’re a truly good leader and organization builder, then you treat everybody well," the source said. "Not just a certain faction."

The team settled a class-action lawsuit filed by former Raiderette Lacy Fields after the 2013 season for $1.25 million. She made allegations of theft and unfair employment practices during her time as a cheerleader.

According to Erickson and Akers, each of the Raiderettes was paid a flat fee of $125 per game, but they didn't receive their checks until after the season:

"They also weren't paid for their mandatory thrice-weekly practices, but if they were late or brought the wrong equipment, they faced fines ranging from $10 to $125, according to court documents. ... The 40 women were also on the hook for all mandatory hair, nail and makeup appointments at Raiderette-approved salons, which amounted to hundreds of dollars in costs."

Fields said it "felt like" the Raiders "wanted to use us, but at the end of the day, they did not care about our well-being."

Allegations against the Raiders come after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the NFL's handling of toxic workplace and sexual harassment allegations against the Washington Commanders.

Davis has been the managing general partner and controlling owner of the Raiders since the death of his father, Al Davis, in 2011.

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