The National Football League (NFL) has issued the Washington Football Team (WFT) with a $10 million fine on the back of an investigation into the franchise’s workplace culture.
The sanction comes around a year after sports attorney Beth Wilkinson was appointed to conduct independent review into the WFT in July 2020, before the NFL assumed control of the probe and concluded that the team was harbouring a ‘highly unprofessional’ workplace environment.
In the wake of the investigation, the WFT has agreed to implement 10 recommendations including developing formal protocols for reporting any future harassment, should it be needed, and a disciplinary action plan. The league will monitor the team’s compliance with those recommendations over the next two years.
“Based on Wilkinson’s review, [NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell] concluded that for many years, the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional,” the league explained. “Bullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.
“Ownership and senior management paid little or no attention to these issues. In some instances, senior executive engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves.”
Furthermore, all of WTF’s senior executives, including the Snyder family, will take part in training in workplace conduct, covering topics such as bullying, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ issues, microaggression and unconscious bias.
“I have learned a lot in the past few months about how my club operated, and the kind of workplace that we had,” WFT owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “It is now clear that the culture was not what it should be, but I did not realise the extent of the problems, or my role in allowing that culture to develop and continue. I know that as the owner, I am ultimately responsible for the workplace. I have said that and I say it again.”
“I feel great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while working here. I’m truly sorry for that. I can’t turn back the clock, but I promise that nobody who works here will ever have that kind of experience again, at least not as long as Tanya and I are the owners of this team.”
According to the NFL, the sum will be used to ‘support organisations committed to character education, anti-bullying, healthy relationships and related topics’.
Snyder also announced he will voluntarily step back from the day-to-day duties ‘for at least the next several months ‘ and instead focus ‘on a new stadium plan and other matters’. His wife Tanya Snyder – who was recently appointed as the franchise’s Co-Chief Executive – will lead the team, which is undergoing a reband, and represent WFT at league functions.