• Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

Former Washington Football Team employees ask NFL to suspend Dan Snyder

Former Washington Football Team employees who have alleged experiencing sexism and harassment during their time with the team called on Thursday for the suspension of majority owner Dan Snyder.

A letter addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asked that the league conduct its own investigation into the team and suspend Snyder until its completion. The Washington Football Team hired Beth Wilkinson and her firm, Wilkinson Walsh, to conduct an independent review of the accusations after it was first reported in the Washington Post.

Last month, more than a dozen women came forward to the newspaper alleging that they were harassed during their employment with the team. The women said they were the subjects of unwanted sexual comments and were told to wear revealing clothing or to flirt with clients.

New allegations were reported by the Post on Wednesday, alleging that a producer with the organization spliced together inappropriate videos of the team’s cheerleaders in 2008 and 2010, using outtakes where the women’s body parts were accidentally exposed during a photoshoot.

One of the team’s former cheerleaders, Tiffany Bacon Scourby, was involved in both photo shoots. She told The Washington Post that she was “horrified” and “nauseous” upon seeing one of the videos.

Scourby also alleged that she was propositioned by Snyder in 2004. Scourby alleged that Snyder approached her at a charity event and suggested that she join his friend in a hotel room so they “could get to know each other better.”

Snyder released a statement following the Post report denying Scourby’s allegation, saying, “This never happened.” He criticized the newspaper for what he described as a “hit job” for reporting the old allegations.

“Ms. Scourby did not report this alleged incident to anyone on the team in 2004, in her 8 years as a cheerleader, or at any time in the past 16 years,” Snyder’s statement said.

Dan Snyder on the sideline before a Monday Night Football game in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2019.The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Snyder also denied any knowledge of the 2008 and 2010 videos, saying the videos appeared to be “unauthorized or fraudulent.” Snyder said he had been “too hands-off” as an owner.

The Washington Football Team did not immediately respond to a phone call or email from NBC News requesting comment on the call for Snyder’s suspension.

Attorneys Lisa J. Banks and Debra S. Katz penned the letter on behalf of more than 12 former employees they’ve taken on as clients.

“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,” the letter to Goodell said.

The two women, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 when she alleged then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager, did not specify how many former employees they represent.

The attorneys representing the former employees said in their letter to the commissioner Thursday that Snyder’s leadership condoned “the misogyny, objectification, and abuse that is deeply engrained in the culture.”

“Our clients would gladly participate in such an NFL investigation, but do not feel safe speaking to investigators hired by Mr. Snyder and do not trust the investigation that is currently underway,” the letter said.

The letter said the former employees fear coming forward to the investigators hired by the Washington Football Team due to Snyder’s “propensity to weaponize the legal system to punish accusers.”

Katz and Banks called on the NFL to release former employees from non-disclosure agreements and asserted that the league has the responsibility to ensure a safe environment for all employees, women included.

“The time is long overdue for the NFL to police this type of behavior and to act decisively to penalize those in its ranks, like Daniel Snyder, who allow women to be repeatedly exploited and mistreated as a prerogative of being a rich and powerful NFL team owner,” their letter said.

Goodell released a statement Wednesday following the second wave of allegations in The Washington Post that stated an “independent investigation” into the accusations against the team was in progress.

“​​​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,” Goodell said.

Katz and Banks said the investigation Goodell referenced was the one being conducted by the firm hired by the Washington Football Team, and promising to monitor that probe was “too little and too late.”

The NFL did not immediately respond to a NBC News request for comment in response to the letter Thursday.