“I’ve never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and have worked in politics.”
That’s Julia Payne, a former vice president of communications with the Washington, DC NFL team quoted as saying in a Washington Post report Late Thursday describes a “nightmare” workplace for women amid a team culture of misogyny and rampant sexual harassment.
Fifteen women told the Post that they were harassed while working in the NFL team’s front office between 2006 and 2019, 14 of whom asked for anonymity for fear of legal reprisals from the team. The Post cited interviews with more than 40 current and former team members as well as internal documents and SMS.
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A woman who agreed to be named, former marketing coordinator Emily Applegate, told the Post that she cried every day at work because she and other women were constantly harassed and cursed by top team executives, and the indifference, which she received after complaining.
“That was the worst experience of my life,” she said. “And we all tolerated it because we knew if we complained – and they reminded us – there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in no time.”
Applegate and the other women gave the Post numerous examples of receiving unwelcome sexual comments or overtures and being asked to wear revealing clothes and flirt with customers. “I was proposed to the training camp basically every day,” a woman told the Post, claiming that a trainer and staff invited her into their hotel rooms.
Three male employees in the team’s front office quit their jobs last week, all of which were named in the Post report. Two other named executives left their positions in 2015 and 2018.
The team said Thursday it hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.
While team owner Daniel Snyder was not accused of harassment, many of the women said he set a bad example and tolerated a toxic corporate meeting.
Some women said their experience with the team ruined their lifelong ambitions. “I’m through with the NFL,” an anonymous woman told the Post, saying she “broke every dream of a career in professional sport.”
Last week the team dropped its long-standing nickname after decades of racist complaints following a revolt by team sponsors.