The Washington NFL Franchise has been waiting for a Washington Post expose to be released, as we covered last night, and the bombshell has finally dropped. 15 former employees of the team have come forward with claims of sexual harassment and verbal abuse while working for the team. Most spoke under the condition of anonymity out of fear of legal litigation that could result from breaking a nondisclosure agreement. The Washington Post noted that the team declined a request to release those former employees from their NDAs so they could speak on the record without fear of legal backlash.
One former employee did speak on the record. Emily Applegate spoke with the Washington Post and detailed her claims while working with the team. Her claims, along with the claims from the other 14 women, running from 2006 to 2019, involve unwanted sexually explicit comments or overtures and exhortations to wear revealing and/or tight clothing to flirt with and entice clients in order to close a deal. Among the accused are three former members of Dan Snyder’s own inner circle: Larry Michael, longtime radio voice of the team who recently stepped down from his position; Alex Santos, the now former Director of Pro Personnel who was fired on Sunday; and assistant Richard Mann II, who was fired alongside Santos.
Two other members of the team that were accused are Dennis Greene, the former president of business operations and Mitch Gershmann, the former chief operating officer. Applegate claimed that Gershmann would reprimand her for things such as printer malfunctions while also complimenting her body. These claims were supported by two other women that spoke to the Washington Post. Greene was accused of coercing female members of the sales staff of wearing revealing clothing and flirting with wealthy suite holders by five former employees, including Applegate.
Seven former employees accused Michael of discussing the appearances of female employees in “sexual and disparaging overtones.” Michael was also caught on a “hot mic” speaking about the attractiveness of a college-aged intern back in 2018, according to six former employees who listened to the recording. Santos was accused not only by six former employees, but also two reporters covering the team. The former employees allege that Santos made inappropriate remarks about their appearance while asking numerous times if they were romantically interested in him.
Santos was the focus of an internal investigation in 2019 after Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, told the team that Santos had pinched her while remarking that she “had an ass like a wagon.” The Ringer’s Nora Princiotti has also claimed to have been harassed by Santos. The Post obtained text messages that show Mann tell a female employee that him and his coworkers had debated whether she had received breast implants. In another text, Mann remarked that another employee should expect an “inappropriate hug” while adding “Don’t worry, that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.”
With the exception of Gershman, all of the accused declined to comment. He denied the allegations levied against him.. “I barely even remember who she is,” Gershman said in a phone interview with the Washington Post. “I thought the Redskins was a great place to work … I would apologize to anyone who thought that I was verbally abusive.”
Neither Snyder nor former team president Bruce Allen were accused of harassment or verbal abuse, but the accusers expressed doubt that the two were unaware of these allegations. “I would assume Bruce [Allen] knew, because he sat 30 feet away from me … and saw me sobbing at my desk several times every week,” Applegate said. Snyder was accused of having an understaffed human resources department and enabling a “sophomoric culture of verbal abuse among top executives” which is believed to have played a role in the treatment of team employees.
“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” said Julia Payne, a former member of the Clinton Administration and a former executive with the team. While Payne says she did not witness any sexual harassment, she supports these former employees’ claims of a toxic work environment and culture. “With such a toxic, mood-driven environment, and the owner behaving like he does,” said Payne, “How could anyone think these women would go to HR?”
The process for handling sexual harassment complaints, if there is one, is never fully explained. One former employee went so far as to say that there is no Human Resources department. “And there was never a reporting process, nor was one explained to new employees about how you should report something.” She told the Post.
Snyder’s team hired DC attorney Beth Wilkinson to “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future,” the team said in a statement. “The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously … 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.”
These allegations are sure to leave another black eye on the team’s image. This report comes as the team is involved in massive controversy surrounding their name, which is a racial slur targeted towards Native Americans. Top team executives were also accused of harassment by team cheerleaders back in 2013, which ended Greene’s career when he was found to have sold access to the cheerleaders.
The team has not, as of this writing, released a statement on these allegations.
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