Washington Football Team Fined $10 Million After NFL Investigation
By Jason Hall
July 1, 2021
The Washington Football Team has been fined $10 million as a result of the NFL's investigation into the franchise's workplace culture.
NFL.com confirmed the fine "will be used to support organizations committed to character education, anti-bullying, healthy relationships and related topics."
Additionally, Tanya Snyder, the wife of team majority owner Dan Snyder, who was promoted to co-CEO this week, will oversee the franchise's day-to-day duties and represent the franchise at league functions during the next several months as her husband turns his focus "on a new stadium plan and other matters," NFL.com reports.
All Washington senior executives, including Dan and Tanya Snyder, will take place in mandatory training in workplace conduct, which will cover numerous 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. 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. I have said that and I say it again," Dan Snyder said in a statement.
"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."
Attorney Beth Wilkinson began an independent investigation into the Washington Football Team in July 2020 amid numerous accusations of sexual harassment by former employees during a 15-year span detailed in a column by the Washington Post published last summer.
In April, Front Office Sports' A.J. Perez reported the investigation examined former team employees and email accounts, which revealed "a toxic work environment and contain troubling exchanges, including nude photos and other inappropriate correspondence," a source with knowledge of the probe confirmed.
A specific exchange included Donald Wells, the franchise's first openly gay employee who previously directed the WFT's cheerleading squad for 12 years, who has publicly lobbied for Dan Snyder to be held accountable for years of workplace harassment that existed within the organization.
“They took advantage of (the cheerleaders) and did things to other people in the office, including me,” Wells told Front Office Sports. “What went on there was way worse than that (email). My gosh.”
However, the email exchange showed that Wells was implicit of that behavior.
“She is a fat cross eyed, crazy chick,” Wells wrote from his WFT email account in September of 2007 after a member of the cheerleading team put in her notice via FOS. “… I am sure she will enjoy taking trashy pictures while she eats her big macs :).”
Wells said he didn't recall sending the email mentioned in FOS' report.
In March, the NFL approved Snyder's application to buy out the franchise's minority owners.
Snyder's $450 million debt waiver was approved by the league's finance committee, an NFL spokesperson confirmed to ESPN on March 24, which was initially reported by Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com. The rest of the league's majority owners will vote during the NFL's annual meeting next week on whether to approve the deal, with Snyder needing approval from 24 of the 32 owners for the transaction to pass.