NFL commissioner, Commanders owner asked to testify at House hearing on hostile workplace culture
The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder to testify at a hearing as part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into allegations that the team has fostered a hostile workplace culture.
“We must have transparency and accountability, which is why we are calling on Mr. Goodell and Mr. Snyder to answer the questions they have dodged for the last seven months,” Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney said in a press release Thursday. “The hearing will explore how Congress can act to prevent employers from silencing victims of workplace misconduct and ensure that what happened at the Commanders organization does not happen again.”
The Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the NFL team in October following attorney Beth Wilkinson’s 10-month independent investigation into the team’s workplace culture, which resulted in a $10 million fine for the team last summer. The Commanders had initially hired Wilkinson to look into allegations of widespread sexual harassment and a toxic workplace culture for female employees under Snyder’s ownership, but the investigation was soon taken over by the NFL.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email Thursday that the organization received the Oversight Committee’s request and “and will respond directly in a timely manner.”
“The NFL has cooperated extensively throughout the Committee’s lengthy investigation of the Washington Commanders, including by producing more than 460,000 pages of documents and responding to numerous questions in writing and in conversations with the Committee’s staff,” McCarthy said in the email.
A spokesperson for the Commanders did not respond to an email asking if Snyder would accept the committee’s invitation.
The leaders of the Oversight Committee on Thursday signaled frustration with the Commanders and the NFL for their reluctance in providing the findings from Wilkinson’s investigation. ESPN has reported tension between the two entities over the release of the documents — with the NFL claiming the Commanders blocked access to more than 100,000 documents.
Since the NFL and the Commanders agreed to pursue a “joint legal strategy,” each has the power to block the other from releasing documentation.
The Oversight Committee on Thursday sent letters to Goodell and Snyder asking that they appear at a June 22 hearing that will examine the Commanders’ workplace culture, the NFL’s handling of the allegations, as well as ”legislative reforms needed to address these issues across the NFL and other workplaces.”
“For seven months, the Committee has been stonewalled by NDAs and other tools to evade accountability,” said Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Chair Raja Krishnamoorthi. “Mr. Snyder and Mr. Goodell need to appear before the Committee to address these issues and answer our questions about the pervasive workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders, and how the NFL addressed these issues.”
The attorneys representing more than 40 former Washington Commanders employees who allege a toxic workplace culture within the team said Thursday they are “pleased” with the Oversight Committee’s request to have Goodell and Snyder testify.
“We hope they will demonstrate the same courage as our clients and agree to testify. Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell have a lot to answer for,” the attorneys said in a statement.
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Author: By Kelly Hooper