Former employees told the Washington Post that lawyers representing the Washington Football Team offered a financial settlement in exchange for public silence concerning the alleged workplace sexual harassment multiple former female employees endured.
Details were not released but Emily Applegate, a former marketing coordinator who was one of the first to go public with her experiences, said it was “disrespectfully low.”
Lisa Banks, the lead attorney for former female team employees, told them that in exchange for money, Applegate and the others would have to sign nondisclosure agreements as well as agree to no longer do press interviews or post on social media about their experiences.
“They were upset about our social media presence and press,” said Megan Imbert, a former producer on WFT’s broadcast team, summarizing what she said was conveyed by Banks. “We turned it down because we see the bigger picture, and we have always been after meaningful change, both within the organization and across the league.”
In 2020, the Post released a report that included 15 former female employees of the team describing their experiences with sexual harassment and verbal abuse within the organization. Additionally, WFT cheerleaders alleged they were secretly videotaped while getting undressed, and later reached a settlement with the team.
The offer was made in February, both Applegate and Imbert told the outlet, during a lull in the league’s investigation into the workplace culture, which eventually ended in a $10 million fine. What the women didn’t know at the time is that the report and the findings would not be made public. Dan Snyder, co-owner of the WFT, was not personally punished as a result, although his wife did become co-CEO.
The news of the reported financial settlement offer comes in wake of former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s scandal. The New York Times uncovered misogynistic, racist and anti-LGBTQ emails sent by Gruden from 2010 to ’18, which were also collected and reviewed by the NFL while it investigated the Washington Football Team.
The ex-coach reportedly sent the emails to then-team president Bruce Allen.
As a result, Banks and Debra Katz, the lawyers representing 40 former WFT employees, released a statement on Tuesday urging the NFL to release the findings of its investigation into the team.
“It is truly outrageous that after the NFL’s 10-month long investigation involving hundreds of witnesses and 650,000 documents related to the longtime culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the only person to be held accountable and lose their job is the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the statement read. “Our clients and the public at large deserve transparency and accountability. If not, the NFL and Roger Goodell must explain why they appear intent on protecting the Washington Football Team and owner Dan Snyder at all costs.”