Lawyers of Ex-Washington Employees Request Independent NFL Investigation

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 28, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, FedEx Field is seen in this general view during the National Anthem prior to an NFL football game between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, in Landover, Md. There were more than 20,000 empty seats for the Redskins’ last home game, and when many of them have been filled this season, it’s with fans of the visiting team. It could be even emptier Sunday when the 1-9 Redskins host the 3-6-1 Detroit Lions. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)
Mark Tenally/Associated Press

Lawyers representing ex-Washington Football Team employees who have made sexual harassment allegations against current and former franchise executives have sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for the league to conduct its own independent investigation and that team owner Dan Snyder be suspended until the investigation is over.

Per ESPN's John Keim, the lawyers—Lisa Banks and Debra Katz—called for Snyder's removal as owner if the NFL investigation "backs up the claims of former employees."

Goodell released a statement Wednesday regarding the allegations, per Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports:

"We strongly condemn the unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior and workplace environment alleged in the report which is entirely inconsistent with our standards and has no place in the NFL.

"An independent investigation into these issues is in process, led by highly experienced counsel recommended by our office.  We will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation and ensure that the club and its employees satisfy their obligation to give full cooperation to the investigators. 

"If at any time the club or anyone associated with the club fails to do so, the investigating counsel has been asked to promptly advise our office and we will take appropriate action. When the investigation concludes, we will review the findings and take any appropriate action at that time."

Banks and Katz responded as follows in a three-page letter in part, per Keim:

"This statement and the action that you are touting simply monitoring the progress of the team's investigation is too little and too late. It does not reflect the seriousness of the allegations, which we now know include the production of a highly sexualized and exploitative video that could lead to civil or criminal liability for those responsible.

"Daniel Snyder has been permitted to lead an organization that has been permeated with misogyny, sexual harassment and routine abuse of female employees with impunity."

Per a July 16 report from Will Hobson and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post, 15 women who worked for the organization and two female reporters said they were sexually harassed by Washington employees between 2006 and 2019. Names of those who allegedly committed the harassment include former pro personnel director Alex Santos and play-by-play announcer Larry Michael.

On Wednesday, Hobson, Clarke, Beth Reinhard and Dalton Bennett of the Washington Post published another report in which over 100 current and ex-WFT employees said Snyder "marginalized, discriminated against and exploited" women. That report included 25 women saying they experienced sexual harassment.

In addition, ex-cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby said Snyder wanted her to meet a close friend of his in his hotel room to "get to know each other better."

Three people backed Scourby's account of the story, including the team's former cheerleader director.

In addition, an allegation was made that Michael produced a video for Snyder "featuring clips of partially nude team cheerleaders pulled from a 2008 swimsuit calendar shoot," per Keim.

Snyder claimed in a statement that the allegations were a "hit job":

"The article is riddled with questionable and unnamed sources, decades-old allegations and is not a reflection of The Washington Football Team today. I am going to work relentlessly to improve all aspects of the Washington Football Team and make this an organization that sets a positive example that we can all be proud of."

Michael and Santos are no longer with the organization. Washington has hired many new faces in an effort to change the team's on- and off-field culture, including head coach Ron Rivera, president Jason Wright and senior vice president of media Julie Donaldson.