Ex-Washington Commanders Employee Tells Congress NFL Does Not Respect Women

Six former employees of the Washington Commanders football team participated in a roundtable discussion with the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Thursday to discuss sexism and hostility in the workplace, with some new sexual harassment allegations coming to light.

Several of the allegations centered around team owner Dan Snyder. Though the NFL commissioned an investigation into allegations against Snyder in 2020, it never released the details, which the employees criticized at the meeting, the Associated Press reported.

Emily Applegate, who worked for the team's marketing department, pointed out the difference between this investigation and the investigation the NFL conducted after quarterback Tom Brady was accused of throwing deflated footballs.

"When the investigation of the air pressure of Tom Brady's football concludes with a 200-plus-page report, but the investigation into two decades of sexual harassment concludes with nothing, it shows the NFL's complete lack of respect toward women, their employees and for the culture of our country," Applegate was quoted by the AP.

The 2020 investigation led to the NFL fining the Washington team $10 million and Snyder's wife temporarily taking over some of the team's operations, but there was never a public report, according to the AP.

CBS Sports reported Applegate said she experienced harassment on a daily basis during her time with the newly rebranded Commanders, saying she was "told not to speak to Dan Snyder or to even look at Dan Snyder."

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, said at the hearing that Snyder once "strategically" seated her next to him at a work dinner so he could put "his hand on the middle of my thigh until I physically removed it," according to CBS Sports.

She also alleged that same night he "aggressively pushed" her toward his limo until his attorney warned him against it, at which point she removed herself from his grip, CBS Sports added. Johnston's former boss confirmed he witnessed this incident in a letter to one of the lawmakers at the discussion.

Brad Baker, a former video production manager for the Washington team, said at the meeting he and others were told to "edit together lewd footage" from a cheerleaders' beach photo shoot, according to CBS. Melanie Coburn, former cheerleader and director of marketing, corroborated this, calling it "essentially a soft-porn video, soundtracked to Dan Snyder's favorite bands."

Coburn also added that in 2005, when she reported to human resources that a member of the Washington team had harassed her, the department said, "I'm sorry that this is happening.…If it's gonna be him or you, it's gonna be you."

A Washington Post reporter shared a statement by Snyder from his public relations representative to her Twitter.

"While past conduct at the Team was unacceptable, the allegations leveled against me personally in today's roundtable—many of which are well over 13 years old—are outright lies," Snyder wrote. "I unequivocally deny having participated in any such conduct, at any time and with respect to any person."

The Washington Commanders did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Emily Applegate, NFL, Washington Commanders
Former employees for the recently rebranded Washington Commanders testified during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace. Above, Emily Applegate, former marketing coordinator for the team, testifies during the hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, February 3. Photo by Graeme Jennings/AFP via Getty Images