An attorney for 20 former Washington Football Team employees said her clients want the organization to have “accountability and change” and said that won’t happen until owner Dan Snyder has been removed.
Lisa Banks told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Outside the Lines that the issues reported in two Washington Post stories this summer have been ongoing for two decades under Snyder.
“Well, it’s certainly not about making a hire or changing a policy,” Banks told Schaap. “The tone, the culture comes from the top. And here, I don’t see us having meaningful change without a change in ownership.”
The Washington Post spoke to 40 ex-employees who described a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment. They did not allege Snyder was involved. One former employee, Brad Baker, said a video was made for Snyder from secret footage of a cheerleader shoot in 2008. Other former employees denied that charge. Snyder has denied that he requested such a video.
But former employees blamed Snyder for creating an environment they called toxic.
“He’s 100 percent responsible,” said Rachel Engleson. “100 percent.”
Snyder said in a statement that he would be more involved in various matters to ensure situations like this aren’t repeated. One former employee said she was disappointed that Snyder termed the articles a “hit job” in a statement last week, saying it showed to her things wouldn’t change.
Another former cheerleader, Tiffany Scourby, who was at that 2008 photo shoot in Aruba, said she doesn’t buy that Snyder will change.
“He’s incapable of it,” Scourby said. “As long as he’s part of the organization, as long as he’s leading it, nothing’s going to change.”
Banks and Debra Katz, who also represents the former employees, sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week stating they wanted Snyder suspended pending the outcome of a now-independent investigation. And, according to the letter, they wanted Snyder removed as owner depending on what the investigation corroborated or uncovered. They also pushed for the NFL to take over the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, which the league indeed has done.
In recent weeks, Washington has hired Julie Donaldson as senior vice president of media and communications. She’ll also become the first woman in a team’s broadcast booth. The organization hired Jason Wright earlier this month, making him the first Black team president in the NFL.
That’s not enough for those who used to work for Washington. They directed their ire at Snyder.
“I think we should remove him,” former employee Alicia Klein said. “I felt powerless when I was there. I felt like, you know, nobody was going to do it. And now I’m sure they’re scared. If we’re scared about coming forward I’m sure they’re scared about what’s going to happen to them. Their time is up. It’s our time now to tell our stories and to show how strong we are. They’re the ones who should be ashamed of what happened and they’re the ones who should be scared.”