Washington Football Team fined $10M after investigation reveals serious misconduct, 'hostile' work environment

The Washington Football Team was fined $10 million Thursday after an investigation revealed serious misconduct and a "hostile" workplace culture at the club, including bullying and harassment. 

Back in August 2020, the organization announced that they would be looking deeper into allegations of workplace problems within Washington Football. 

Team owner Daniel Snyder initially hired Beth Wilkinson of District of Columbia law firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the allegations of misconduct and the workplace culture. Just before the 2020 season began, the league assumed oversight of her work. 

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NFL officials say Wilkinson's review and the league investigation revealed that for several years, the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team--particularly for women--was highly unprofessional. They say bullying and intimidation took place often and of the more than 150 employees interviewed, many described the culture as one of fear. Numerous female employees also reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace. 

"I have learned a lot in the past few months about how my club operated, and the kind of workplace that we had," owner Dan Snyder said in a statement Thursday. "It is now clear that the culture was not what it should be, but I did not realize 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." 

The investigation showed that ownership and senior management ignored these instances, and in some cases senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, using demeaning language and publicly embarrassing employees. 

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The league says this set a tone and led to disrespectful behavior and serious misconduct being acceptable in the workplace. These problems were made worst by having an inadequate HR staff and practices. They also did not have a system of reporting or addressing employee complaints, so when reports were made, they were generally not investigated and led to no discipline. Many employees also admitted that they feared retaliation if they spoke up. 

"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" Snyder said. 

Snyder says the team has implemented several changes over the past year to improve workplace culture and policies. It has also been noted that none of the managers or executives identified as having engaged in misconduct is still employed at the club.

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"Over the last 18 months we have made a lot of changes. We have a new and diverse leadership team, a comprehensive program of training, culture surveys, and employee support, and a commitment to ensuring that every employee of the Washington Football Club comes to a professional and respectful workplace every day," Snyder said. "While there has been real progress, we are not finished, and will continue to improve in every way that we can." 

Synder says the team is continually improving their workplace practices and hopes to create a better environment for all of their employees. 

"Going forward, my focus will be on making the Washington Football Team a source of pride to all of its employees, fans and partners, including my partners in the NFL."