Washington NFL Team Faces Harassment Allegations

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It hasn't been a banner week for the NFL franchise based in Washington, D.C.

First, the team finally buckled under pressure to scrap its controversial nickname. Then came word Thursday that 15 former women allege they were sexually harassed and verbally abused while employees of the franchise.

Sports Illustrated, citing an exclusive by The Washington Post, relayed description of a workplace culture in Washington that permitted — and frequently condoned — unwanted sexual advances and other harassment.

Of the 15 former employees who spoke to the Post, all but one — Emily Applegate — spoke on the condition of anonymity. Applegate began working for the franchise in 2014, and says she routinely experienced and observed verbal abuse and harassment within months of joining the team, including being asked to wear tight and revealing clothing and to flirt with clients to close sales deals.

In the past week, three team employees abruptly parted ways with the organization after the Post presented its findings to the organization, according to SI.

Two of those employees are radio broadcaster Larry Michael and director of pro personnel Alex Santos. Michael, seven former employees said, regularly commented on his female colleagues' physical appearance with sexual overtones. Six former employees say Michael was overheard on a "hot mic" in 2018 remarking on the attractiveness of a college-aged intern.

In the Post's report, six former employees and two reporters who covered the team said Santos made inappropriate comments and romantic overtures. He was the subject of an internal investigation after Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, told Washington management that Santos had pinched her in public, asked whether she would date him and made inappropriate remarks about her appearance.

Santos and assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II were fired earlier this week, Santos had held his position since 2014, and first joined Washington as a pro personnel assistant in 2006. The team declined to comment on the firings, according to The Post's Les Carpenter.

According to The Washington Post, Snyder has not been accused of acting inappropriately with female employees, but the owner is characterized as fostering a "sophomoric culture" in which verbal abuse and humiliation was widely tolerated. He also drew criticism for Washington's lack of a robust human resource staff: The team has one full-time HR employee responsible for more than 220 full-time employees.

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