The Washington Football Team has removed the muzzles from its former employees. To a certain extent.
According to the Washington Post, owner Daniel Snyder has informed NFL officials that he will release current and former team employees from nondisclosure agreements in order to allow them to cooperate with an investigation that was initiated by the team but that has been taken over by the league.
“I think that will be extremely helpful in making employees and former employees come forward and share their experiences with the investigators,” attorney Lisa Banks told the Post. Her firm represents more than a dozen former employees of the team.
Based on this reporting, it appears that Snyder didn’t give the current and former employees a blanket release, which would allow them to tell their stories publicly. Still, they now have the authority to say whatever they need to say within the confines of the ongoing investigation. Based on recent reporting from the Post, more than 40 former employees contend they suffered sexual harassment while working for the team.
As Banks tells it, the league is getting more and more involved in the process of exploring allegations that, if true, will surely result in significant consequences for the organization, and potentially for Snyder himself.
“The NFL was getting information every . . . couple days, a few times a week,” Banks said. “Now they are talking to the investigators every day. Whatever information they were getting, they decided to take a more active role.”
Banks and her law partner, Debra Katz, sent a letter last week to Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to assume control of the investigation and to suspend Snyder while the investigation proceeds. Banks and Katz spoke Monday with Lisa Friel, who runs the NFL’s internal investigations of misconduct. Banks, per the Post, called the conversation “good and productive.” As to possible punishment to be imposed on the team and/or Snyder, Banks said that she and Katz were told “the repercussions with the team will be commensurate with the report’s finding.”
Even though the NFL has assumed control of the investigation, the investigation will continue to be conducted by Beth Wilkinson, who was selected and retained by Snyder last month. A truly independent investigation, run by someone picked by the league not by Snyder, would go a long way toward creating a sense that the NFL is committed to getting to the truth and dispensing sanctions based solely on the facts, and no other considerations.