A group of 15 women once employed by the Washington Redskins has accused high-ranking team executives of sexual harassment, a development likely to send shock waves through the organization that could ultimately reach the owner’s suite.
The Washington Post reported late Thursday afternoon that several team employees have been accused of inappropriate workplace conduct, including front-office executives Richard Mann III and Alex Santos, who were fired Sunday, and Larry Michael, the team’s longtime radio play-by-play announcer who abruptly retired Wednesday.
The report came hours after ESPN reported that the team’s minority owners have begun vetting buyers to sell their stake in the organization.
As news of The Post’s impending report leaked earlier in the day, speculation began mounting that NFL owners may move to force majority owner Daniel Snyder to sell his stake.
A team spokesman declined to comment when contacted by The Washington Informer on Thursday.
Team officials reportedly were “highly upset” and “frustrated” over the increasing number of cryptic tweets and stories preparing the public for the Post story exposing the organization’s troublesome past “culture,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said, according to The Bleacher Report.
The team, in preparation for the report, hired renowned attorney Beth Wilkinson to review the organization’s protocols.
“We can confirm that our firm was retained by the team to do an independent review of the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct,” Wilkinson wrote in an email Thursday to NPR.
Wilkinson, who works at the firm Wilkinson, Walsh & Eskovitz in northwest D.C., arrives with a stellar reputation among her peers in the legal world and a great deal of respect from large companies and organizations.
The University of Virginia School of Law and Princeton University graduate has served as lead counsel in more than 45 jury trials, including numerous bet-the-company, multibillion-dollar cases, according to law.com.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has reported that Fred Smith, whose company FedEx serves as the naming sponsor for the team’s stadium, and others have “actively been trying to sell their pieces of the team.”
Earlier this month, Snyder finally caved to growing pressure to retire the Redskins name.
Florio reported that Smith’s dissatisfaction stemmed from many issues with Snyder over the years, including trying to convince him to change the team’s name.