Former WFT Employees Urge NFL to Make Harassment Investigation Public

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2021

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder arrives for an NFL owners meeting in New York, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. The NFL's labor committee met Thursday morning before presenting to the owners the current state of ongoing negotiations with the players' union on a new labor agreement. With the league eager to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the players in the next few weeks _ the current deal runs out in March 2021 _ team representatives were summoned to New York to discuss the NFL's proposal. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Twenty former employees of the Washington Football Team wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, per Beth Reinhard and Mark Maske of the Washington Post, demanding that he make public the league's investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and a "sexually hostile work environment."

Those employees were reportedly told by investigators that their names and information would not be in the report and could be redacted, eliminating one reason why the NFL wouldn't release its findings publicly.

"We shared our experiences, often at great emotional cost, taking you at your word that the investigation would be conducted transparently and in good faith, and that the NFL would take appropriate steps in response," the letter read. "But there cannot be accountability without transparency."

In a separate letter to Goodell, attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz noted that the NFL has made its findings public in previous investigations.

"Not to do so here would be a betrayal of the many women who courageously came forward to provide vital information to assist with the NFL investigation," they wrote.

Among the allegations, first investigated and reported by the Washington Post, was the creation of a video featuring lewd outtakes from a photoshoot with the team's cheerleaders, which was ordered to be made by former lead broadcaster and team vice president Larry Michael with the purpose of being distributed to owner Daniel Snyder.

Additionally, many women shared their experiences in what they said was a workplace environment where sexual harassment, gender discrimination and demeaning and bullying behavior were normalized and went unpunished.

"It was pervasive," Alicia Klein, a former intern for the team who now works as a professor and sports executive in Brazil, said of men commenting on her physical appearance. "I didn't tell anyone because it was embarrassing and demeaning, and I wanted to tell everyone that I had worked in the NFL."

"It was like fresh meat to a pack of wolves every time a new pack of interns would come in," Brittany Pareti, a former employee for the team, added. "It was like a frat house, with men lined up in the lobby watching women walk in and out. You constantly felt there were eyes on you."

In August, the NFL said it was taking over the investigation into the allegations. 

"The Washington Football Team launched an independent third-party investigation into allegations about our culture and incidents of harassment," Snyder later said in a statement. "In conversations with Commissioner Goodell, Tanya [Snyder] and I suggested that the NFL assume full oversight of the investigation so that the results are thorough, complete and trusted by the fans, the players, our employees and the public."