The Washington Redskins have launched an independent investigation after 15 female former employees alleged they had been subjected to sexual harassment and abuse during their time at the club.
A Washington Post report said the allegations spanned a 13-year period from 2006 to 2019 and had already led to the departure of three team employees in the past week.
One of the 15 women, Emily Applegate, told the Post she had been verbally abused by a former senior executive while being ordered to wear tight-fitting clothes during meetings with clients.
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Applegate added that the club had been indifferent to complaints from a female employee who alleged she had been groped by a wealthy suite holder.
Applegate, 31, was the only victim named by the Post. The 14 other women spoke on condition of anonymity citing fear of litigation as some had signed non-disclosure agreements.
Washington, which this week announced it was dropping its controversial Redskins name following pressure from sponsors, said in a statement that the team had appointed outside lawyers to investigate the allegations.
Attorneys would “conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future,” the statement said.
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” it added.
“While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”
Recently departed Redskins employees named
The Post report named recently departed Redskins employees Larry Michael, the team's long-serving in-house radio commentator, Alex Santos, the director of pro personnel, as well as his top scouting assistant Richard Mann II.
Former president of business operations Dennis Greene and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman were also named in the report.
Team owner Dan Snyder, a polarising figure in the NFL, was not among those executives accused of inappropriate behaviour.
The allegations come two years after the Redskins were accused of exploiting the team's cheerleading squad.
The team's cheerleaders alleged they were required to pose topless during a calendar shoot in Costa Rica, while some members said they were required to escort male sponsors during a trip to a nightclub.
Greene is accused of encouraging female sales staffers to wear tight skirts and low-cut blouses and flirt with suite holders.
Greene resigned in 2018 after the cheerleader scandal, in which he was accused of offering suite holders access to cheerleaders on the trip to Costa Rica in exchange for buying suites.
Fans were reportedly allowed to watch cheerleaders during a topless photo shoot.
Greene declined to comment to the Post.
Details of disturbing Redskins allegations
The women claimed they were victims of “relentless sexual harassment and verbal abuse.”
The Post described a bare-bones system for reporting harassment that involved one full-time human resources staffer and no formal reporting process.
In addition to the former employees, two reporters who covered the team accused Santos of sexual harassment.
The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker filed a complaint accusing Santos of pinching her and telling her she has “an ass like a wagon.”
One woman described receiving a warning about a staircase at team headquarters delivered at an “informal, but invaluable, orientation administered privately by veteran female employees.”
She described a staircase lined at the top with plexiglass that male staffers would stand under so they could look up women’s skirts. She told the Post of a first-hand experience.
“He even leaned to get a better angle,” the woman said without naming a name. “He wasn’t even trying to hide it.”
The Post published text exchanges from Mann and a pair of former female staffers in which he allegedly referenced a “lame boob” joke, telling a staffer that “real or fake is the debate.”
The exchange shows Mann offering to deliver the staffer lunch with the caveat: “If I bring that I want to squeeze your butt. Deal.”
An exchange with another staffer alleges that Mann offered to give a departing staffer an “inappropriate hug” on her last day. “And don’t worry that won’t be a stapler in my pocket,” Mann allegedly wrote.
Mann declined to comment to the Post.
Washington’s team name change was only the beginning. This story is disgusting and scary and the worst thing of all is we know it’s not unique in male dominated work places. Tremendous courage by all these women for stepping forward to tell their story. https://t.co/4smY9RdbGa— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) July 17, 2020
When women joined the team, there was "orientation administered privately by veteran female employees who warned them to avoid certain people and places.”— Staying in the Game (@AdrienneLaw) July 16, 2020
This entire article details sexual harassment that is incredibly disgusting …and all too familiar.https://t.co/Y8JwGArrwj
not only is this article exposing a disgusting culture that exists in the redskins organization, but it brings light to a bigger problem - that women in the sports industry are not taken seriously and are used for visual appeal. https://t.co/8iPnQDQoxZ— bianca rose (@bianca_cipolla) July 17, 2020
It looks like this bombshell Redskins story is dropping soon. Heard it sickening and disgraceful. With that being said....— Dax Gray (@DaxGraySports) July 16, 2020
The FANS need to BUY THIS TEAM!
I am going to start Washington Football Inc. We will become publicly-owned, non-profit, major league professional team.
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