Ex-Washington Football Team Employees Detail Sexist Workplace Culture in Report

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walks the sidelines before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The Redskins won the game 16-3. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

More than 100 current and former employees of the Washington Football Team allege owner Daniel Snyder created a workplace environment that "marginalized, discriminated against and exploited" women, according to an investigation by Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, Liz Clarke and Dalton Bennett of the Washington Post published Wednesday.  

In that report, 25 women say they experienced sexual harassment while working for the NFL team, including inappropriate sexual innuendo and unwanted advances from male colleagues. Seventeen women made similar allegations in a story by Hobson and Clarke in July.

The latest report is the first to directly implicate Snyder.

Former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby told the Post the team's owner urged her to meet one of his close friends in his hotel room at a charity event so they could "get to know each other better." Her story was supported by three friends, including Washington's former cheerleader director.

Further allegations were also brought against men named in the first report: former executives Alex Santos, Dennis Greene and Mitch Gershman and former broadcaster Larry Michael, who retired last month.

In one instance, Michael allegedly told staff members to make a video of partially nude outtakes from the production of the team's 2008 cheerleader calendar for Snyder.

"What the cheerleaders didn't know was that another video, intended strictly for private use, would be produced using footage from that same shoot," the report stated. "Set to classic rock, the 10-minute unofficial video featured moments when nipples were inadvertently exposed as the women shifted positions or adjusted props."

Brad Baker, a former member of Michael's staff, relayed details of the story, but Michael denied the allegation. The Post was provided with a copy of the 2008 outtakes video as well as another version from the 2010 shoot by another former employee.

Snyder later released a statement responding to the story, saying it reads like a "hit job," adding that he had no knowledge of the videos in question, via Adam Schefter of ESPN:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Statement from Dan Snyder in response to the allegations in today’s Washington Post: https://t.co/vuvfUAO4q0

The team also issued a statement, noting it is "committed" to investigating the allegations:

Washington Football Team @WashingtonNFL


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also announced an investigation was ongoing:

NFL345 @NFL345

Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: https://t.co/2uaqdff4pC https://t.co/50eIOdnR2C

A former intern who tried to file a sexual harassment complaint against Santos was told her only options were to avoid him or quit because of the team's "male-dominated culture." She quit the organization.

Snyder released a statement following the initial allegations:

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

From Dan Snyder https://t.co/uoTEFQ071n

Brittany Pareti, who worked with the organization on community and charitable efforts from 2007 through 2012, described the environment as a "frat house" and told the Washington Post she doesn't trust an investigation from Snyder's handpicked law firm.

"An independent investigation is needed," Pareti said. "We cannot trust a report from this organization to be unbiased."

Susan Miller, a former president of an employee referral agency in Virginia, told the Washington Post she stopped sending women to work for the Washington Football Team because of how they were treated.

"He denigrated people," Miller said of Snyder. "He treated women like servants."

Other members detailed failed efforts to enforce reforms aimed at fixing the toxic culture, which led to a mass resignation of staff in 2019.

During a tumultuous offseason, the team also retired its former nickname, which had long been decried because it was a racial slur against Indigenous people.

Andrew Beaton and Cara Lombardo of the Wall Street Journal reported the club's minority owners have tried to pressure Snyder into selling the franchise amid the turmoil.

Washington is scheduled to kick off the 2020 regular season Sept. 13 when it hosts the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.