The Post interviewed more than 100 former team employees. Many women, whose various tenures ranged across the 21 years Daniel Snyder has owned the team, spoke of an environment in which many felt marginalized and uncomfortable.
Snyder and the team did not respond to multiple requests over the past week to respond to the allegations made in the story. After it was published online Wednesday, he issued a six-paragraph statement that began, “The behavior described in the Washington Post’s latest story has no place in our franchise, or in our society. While I was unaware of these allegations until they surfaced in the media, I take full responsibility for the culture of our organization.”
In recent weeks, team officials have vowed to change the environment for female employees by asking attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct an investigation into the organization’s culture and hiring two key new executives, President Jason Wright and Senior Vice President for Media Julie Donaldson, who have vowed to change the atmosphere for women in the team’s headquarters.
Here are five takeaways from the latest story from The Post:
1. Some of the new allegations involve Snyder.
Brad Baker, a member of former senior vice president and play-by-play broadcaster Larry Michael’s staff, said Michael asked for a video to be made out of outtakes from the official video documenting the cheerleaders’ 2008 calendar shoot. Baker said he was present when Michael told staffers to make the unauthorized video for Snyder.
Michael denied this allegation and said he had no knowledge of the existence of such videos.
In his statement issued Wednesday, Snyder said, “I do not have any knowledge of the ten-year old videos referenced in the story. I did not request their creation and I never saw them.”
Former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby said that, during a 2004 charity event at the Washington Hilton, Snyder told her that he and the team’s eye doctor had a suite at the hotel and suggested she and the doctor go to the room “and get to know each other better.” Scourby, who was working at the event with the other cheerleaders, said she declined.
In his statement, Snyder said, “We are disappointed Ms. Scourby would speak to the newspaper but never bring any of these allegations to management’s attention, particularly since she is still part of our organization as a volunteer with our cheerleaders. I want to unequivocally state that this never happened. 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.”
2. Lewd videos of cheerleaders were made in 2008 and 2010
Baker said he was present when Michael directed members of his staff to make a video compilation of outtakes from the 2008 calendar shoot that included what Baker said Michael called “the good parts” or “the good bits” — moments of inadvertent nudity. A former video producer for the team said a similar video was made in 2010 and that Michael instructed it be burned to a DVD labeled, “For Executive Meeting.”
Michael, who retired last month after being accused of harassment, said he has no knowledge of such videos.
The Post obtained copies of the 2008 and 2010 videos.
“I feel betrayed and violated,” Heather Tran a cheerleader who posed for the 2008 shoot said when told of the unauthorized video.
3. Twenty-five more women who worked for the team said they experienced sexual harassment while employed by the organization
The women, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements or fear reprisal, described instances in which male colleagues made comments about their bodies or clothing or made unwanted advances.
One of those women, Alicia Klein, who interned with the team in 2010, called the harassment “pervasive” and didn’t tell anyone “because it was embarrassing and demeaning.”
Brittany Pareti, who worked in the team’s community and charitable programs from 2007 to 2012, said, “it was fresh meat to a pack of wolves every time a new pack of interns would come in.”
4. Women felt uncomfortable and marginalized while working for the team
Megan Imbert, a former producer in the broadcast department, said Snyder “led by fear.” Other female former employees described rules for his executive assistants that included stocking his bar with Crown Royal XR and folding the toilet paper in his personal restroom with a hotel-style point.
“He denigrated people,” Susan Miller, the former president of an employee referral agency who stopped sending people to work for the team said. “He treated women like servants.”
Female employees said they were instructed to have male co-workers perform tasks that involved going to the first floor of the team headquarters, where the players’ locker rooms and weight rooms are located. Four women said the implication, made clear in follow-up instructions by team executives, was that they were “a distraction” to players. Women in sales and marketing said they had to tell clients to walk themselves down the stairs between the main level and the first floor on visits to practice while those female employees walked around the building, down a steep hill to meet their clients outside.
5. Attempts to change the culture were squashed
Some of the women who used to work for the team said the human resources department was inadequate and did not enforce allegations of harassment. Several employees said they hoped the culture would change in 2018, when Snyder hired Brian Lafemina, a senior vice president at the NFL, as the franchise’s president of business operations and chief operating officer.
One former employee, Rachel Engleson, a senior director of marketing and client services, said she took complaints about harassment from Michael to Lafemina and two of Lafemina’s deputies, who she described “as horrified.” Lafemina was fired eight months after joining the team.
Michael denied Engleson’s allegations but admitted to making one inappropriate remark to her.