The Washington, D.C., Attorney General filed suit Thursday against the Washington Commanders, accusing the troubled NFL franchise of perpetuating “a toxic culture of sexual harassment.”
The team, owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league itself were named as defendants for alleged “conspiracy” to suppress the franchise’s ill-treatment of female employees, according to the District Attorney General of the United States. Columbia, Karl Racine.
The lawsuit language commonly found in consumer protection claims, accuses the defendants of lying to residents of Washington, DC to protect their businesses.
“In order to sell expensive tickets and merchandise and maintain the team as a profitable part of the League, defendants need the team to instill public trust and fan loyalty,” the civil suit said.
“But defendants have repeatedly tried to bolster that trust and loyalty through cunning deception against the district consumers.”
Representatives for Snyder and the commanders said they welcomed an investigation into the club’s practices.
“We agree with AG Racine on one thing: the public needs to know the truth,” said a statement from team attorneys John Brownlee and Stuart Nash.
“While the lawsuit repeats many allusions, half-truths and lies, we welcome this opportunity to defend the organization – for the first time – in court and establish once and for all what is fact and what is fiction.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy denied the lawsuit’s allegations and questioned Racine’s legal strategy to claim consumer fraud.
“We reject the legally unsound and factually unfounded allegations made today by the DC Attorney General against the NFL and Commissioner Goodell and will defend ourselves vigorously against those allegations,” McCarthy said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
The Washington Commanders play their home games at FedEx Field in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
The team had played at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, DC, but its last season was in 1996.
However, the lawsuit maintained that residents of the District of Columbia were victims, as the team aggressively marketed its product to residents of the nation’s capital.
Racine is the district’s chief legal officer and acts as the jurisdiction’s primary juvenile prosecutor.
“We’re not bringing this lawsuit as a criminal case because we don’t have criminal jurisdiction over adults,” he told reporters.
“We are bringing this as a civil matter to a court with a fair trial for the accused so that the public has a sense of responsibility. Again, no one is above the law.”
The National Football League must be held accountable if it knowingly allows the commanders’ misdeeds to continue with impunity, Racine said.
“I think the public should be aware of an incredible product that I spend a lot of time on, the National Football League,” Racine said. “It should know that when the National Football League tells you that ethics matters, that honesty matters, that treating people fairly in the workplace matters, that there will be accountability, that there will actually be accountability.”
the NFL fined the team $10 million last year, after a league investigation led by Washington, DC, attorney Beth Wilkinson discovered a “highly unprofessional” workplace at the NFL club.
The league claimed Wilkinson’s investigation had complete independence, and its researchers interviewed more than 150 current and former team members.
But the new lawsuit alleged that Snyder was working behind the scenes to obstruct Wilkinson’s investigation, which has yet to be released in its entirety.
Synder reportedly sent private investigators to the homes of witnesses to intimidate them, “engaged in wrongful lawsuits to prevent witness participation” and “offered additional money to former employees who had previously settled claims against Snyder,” according to the report. the civil complaint.
“I am disgusted by the behavior in question,” Racine said. “The idea of intimidating victims, the idea of scaring them into withdrawing their accusations, is outrageous and it calls on all of us to do what we can to be accountable.”
The probe ultimately did not hold Snyder and the team responsible, the lawsuit said.
All things considered, district consumers remained convinced that defendants would do everything they could to maintain the integrity of the Wilkinson investigation, and that the findings would restore their confidence and allay concerns regarding the franchise’s continued support. the lawsuit said.
“In reality, the picture Defendants painted for district consumers was terribly misleading, especially during the investigation, as consumers continued to purchase tickets and merchandise on the understanding that a thorough, unbiased investigation was underway.”
McCarthy defended Wilkinson’s findings and subsequent league sanctions against Snyder and the team.
“The independent investigation into workplace misconduct among the Washington Commanders was conducted thoroughly and extensively by Beth Wilkinson and her law firm,” McCarthy said.
“Upon completion of the investigation, the NFL released a summary of Ms. Wilkinson’s findings and imposed a record fine on the club and its property.”
Lawyers for the team also insisted that the commanders and Snyder take responsibility for past wrongdoing in the workplace.
“More than two years ago, Dan and Tanya Snyder acknowledged that there had been an unacceptable workplace culture within their organization for years and have apologized many times for this happening,” the team attorneys said.
The lawsuit would continue even if Snyder sold the franchise, Racine said.
The team announced last week that it had hired Bank of America “to consider possible transactions,” a move widely seen as Snyder’s first public move to potentially sell the famed franchise.
The lawsuit did not mention a dollar figure that was requested from the defendants. But Racine has vowed to have defendants testify under oath.
“This case requires statements, sworn testimony and accountability from some of the most powerful men and organizations in the United States of America,” he said.