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At Least 15 Women Accuse Redskins Staff of Sexual Harassment

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  • At least 15 women have accused Washington Redskins staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse during their time working for the team. Others accused top employees of creating a hostile work environment.
  • The allegations include derogatory remarks about physical appearances, unwanted flirtation and touching, and other actions that belittled female staff members.
  • While team owner Dan Snyder was not named in accusations of sexual harassment, he was pointed to as fostering a toxic workplace culture.
  • The team has hired an attorney to conduct a thorough review of the matter. Snyder has condemned the reported conduct, and the National Football League says they will meet with the team’s attorneys after the review is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings.

Allegations of Sexual Harassment

At least 15 women have accused Washington Redskins staffers of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, according to a Thursday report from The Washington Post

All the women are former employees of the professional football team. Fourteen of the 15 who spoke chose to remain anonymous as they had signed nondisclosure agreements with the team. When The Post asked if they could be released from those agreements to speak on the record for their story, the Redskins declined. The Post spoke with 40 current and former employees and reviewed text messages and internal company documents in their investigation.

The report details derogatory remarks, unwanted flirtation, verbal abuse, as well as a culture that cultivated and encouraged toxic behavior and the belittlement of women. Emily Applegate, one of the women who came forward, said female employees were encouraged to wear tight-fitting clothes “so the men in the room have something to look at.” 

“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” Applegate said. She worked for the team throughout most of 2014 and 2015 and claimed that she and other female staffers frequently cried on the job from the distress the harassment caused. 

The allegations stem from 2006 to 2019. Team owner Dan Snyder was not specifically named when it came to sexual harassment, though he was pointed to when it came to the team’s hostile workplace. Other higher ups on the team were named, and three are no longer with the Redskins. 

Who Was Involved?

Larry Michael, senior vice president of content and the team’s radio announcer, retired on Wednesday. Seven former employees accused him of talking about the appearances of female staffers in sexual ways. According to the accounts of these former workers, he suggested one female staffer was sleeping with other employees, said one staffer had a “tight ass,” and would often talk about how attractive he found his female colleagues to be. 

Alex Santos and Richard Mann II were the club’s director and assistant director of pro personnel. They were both fired last week. The Post alleges that Santos would make remarks about female employees’ bodies and asked if they were romantically interested in them. He was also accused of flirting with female employees in front of other staff members, and in one case, allegedly pinched a woman’s butt in front of multiple people.

The Post received texts where Mann told a female employee that there was an ongoing debate among men working for the team about whether or not she had plastic surgery to enhance her breasts. He told her to not “be mad” and that it was a compliment. In another text exchange, he told a female employee that he was going to give her an inappropriate hug. 

“And don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else,” Mann wrote. 

The three men declined to speak to The Post for their story. The report also claims Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, sexually harassed women and encouraged them to wear revealing clothing. He left the team in 2018 after it was discovered he had sold access to the team’s cheerleaders. 

Mitch Gershman, the team’s former chief operating officer, was also accused of berating female workers. He left the team in 2015. Applegate specifically accused him of harassment, but Gershman said he does not even remember who she is. 

“I thought the Redskins was a great place to work,” he told The Post. “I would apologize to anyone who thought that I was verbally abusive.”

A Toxic Workplace at the Redskins

According to The Post, the team has one human resource staffer for 220 employees. That staffer also had administrative responsibilities. 

One former female employee told The Post that “there’s no HR” and no “reporting process.”

As for the allegations of a toxic culture, Snyder allegedly berated top executives, including Greene. Snyder allegedly forced Greene, who was a cheerleader in college, to do cartwheels after one meeting. 

“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment…and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne told The Post. In 2003, she was briefly the team’s vice president of communications. Before this, she was an assistant press secretary in the Clinton administration. 

Payne said she did not experience any sexual harassment herself, but noted that given the company’s culture, it’s no wonder the women who did may have been reluctant to report to HR.

The Team’s Response

“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” the team told The Post. “While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”

This is the second time this month the Redskins have made headlines for addressing controversy. Last week, the team announced that they will be changing their name and logo, which has repeatedly come under fire for being racist. No new mascot or name has been revealed yet. 

For the allegations they are currently facing, the team has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”

“We’re trying to create a new culture here,” the team’s new coach Ron Rivera told The Post. “We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going as opposed to where we’ve been.”

Snyder initially refused to comment to The Post for their Thursday story. On Friday, he issued a statement saying that the reported conduct “has no place in our franchise or society.”

“This story has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach Rivera earlier this year,” he added.

This came shortly after the National Football League released a statement condemning the behavior outlined in The Post’s report. 

“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment,” the league said. The NFL plans on meeting with attorneys after the team’s review of the matter is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings. 

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (USA Today) (CNN)

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Millions of Mail-in Ballots Have Still Not Been Returned as USPS Delays Continue

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  • Current data shows that millions of absentee ballots sent to voters have yet to be returned, and with mail delays continuing, many Americans are now unable to mail in their ballots and still be sure their vote counts.
  • While officials and the USPS are warning people not to send in ballots less than a week before their state’s deadline, there have been some mixed messages.
  • A postmaster in Michigan directly contradicted the Secretary of State and told voters it was still safe to mail in their ballot. In Texas, a county administrator admitted that many absentee ballots have not even been delivered to those who requested them yet.
  • At the same time, the USPS is reporting incredibly alarming delays, with some key battleground states reporting on-time mail delivery rates lower than 60%.

Millions of Votes Yet to Be Cast

With less than a week until the election, nearly 40 million of the 90 million mail-in ballots that American voters have requested have not yet been returned, according to data reported Thursday by the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan vote tracking site.

The number of unreturned ballots are especially high in several key swing states like Florida, where over 1.7 million requested ballots have not yet been sent back. Nearly 1 million requested ballots in Pennsylvania have also not been returned.

While experts say it is possible that many people who requested ballots have since decided to vote in person instead, these numbers are still significant because for many of those millions who have not yet returned their ballot, their options are now much more limited.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has warned that voters should mail in their ballots a full week ahead of the deadline for counting set by their state in order to ensure that their vote will be counted. 

In other words, if you live in one of the roughly 30 states that require ballots to be received by Election Day and have not yet voted, it is too late to safely mail in your ballot. To ensure your vote is counted, vote in person or use a ballot drop box if your state offers them. For more information on how to vote in your state, go to vote.org.

The USPS and many election officials have been issuing these same warnings, but there are still mixed messages being sent in some key states. 

For example, on Tuesday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson warned voters that it was too late for them to safely rely on the Postal Service. The next day, however, Grand Rapids Postmaster William Rowe contradicted the state’s top election official and encouraged voters to trust the Postal Service.

Rowe said that he himself mailed his own ballot the same day he received it, which was a day later than the USPS recommendation. Notably, the fact that he received his ballot less than a week before the deadline to mail it in is also something that is cause for alarm.

If the city’s postmaster did not get his ballot until then, how many others also did not get their ballots until a week before the election? That concern is also not just limited to Grand Rapids or Michigan. Plenty of voters all over the country have not yet received their mail-in ballots, and in some places, that is not an accident.

In Texas, election officials have outright said mail-in ballots are still being sent to voters through the end of this week, even though their votes will not be counted unless they are postmarked by Election Day and arrive no later than Nov. 4.

In an interview with the Texas Tribune, Jacque Callanen, the elections administrator in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, said that some voters might not even get their ballots until Halloween. Callanen even acknowledged that this is a “tight window,” for many voters adding, “We’re pushing it. But that’s how it works.”

Continued Slow-Downs

For many voters “that’s just how it works” is an entirely unacceptable argument, especially in a state like Texas, which limits absentee requests to people who are genuinely limited in their ability to vote in-person like the elderly, people with disabilities, and overseas voters.

On top of that, the delay in getting voters their absentee ballots is also troubling because the USPS is still experiencing slow-downs as a result of the changes that Postmaster Louis DeJoy implemented over the summer.

According to The Washington Post, before DeJoy took office in June, the USPS delivered upward of 90% of first-class mail on time. After DeJoy implemented his so-called “cost-cutting” measures in July, those numbers plummeted, and they still remain alarmingly low, even after many of the policies were rolled back. 

DeJoy, for his part, has promised to make election mail his main priority and supply additional resources, but the current data seems to indicate that he has not followed through at all. 

The agency has repeatedly missed its goal to have more than 95% of first-class mail delivered within five days. In fact, according to USPS data filed in court as part of a lawsuit and accessed by The Post, as of Tuesday, exactly one week before the election, the office reported that only 69.8% of mail was on time nationally.

That is just the national average. Key postal districts in many swing states failed to reach even that mark. According to The Post, 17 postal districts that represent 10 battleground states reported the average on-time delivery rate for first-class mail was just 64%. That is nearly 30% lower than the delivery rate at the beginning of this year.

In some areas, the Postal Service reported that delivery rates fell below 60%, with one of the most extreme examples being the Philadelphia Metro postal district, where only 43% of Tuesday’s mail was delivered on time. 

According to the Los Angeles Times in certain parts of the country, on-time delivery rates have dropped to levels lower than July, “when millions of Americans went days, even weeks, without mail.” 

In an attempt to address these concerning numbers, Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia on Tuesday ordered DeJoy to boost mail services in the week before the election. Under the order, the postmaster is required to increase the number of late mail trips and extra deliveries, in order to ensure election mail is on time. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Los Angeles Times) (The Texas Tribune)

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Texas Supreme Court Sides With Gov. Abbott’s Order Limiting Counties to One Ballot Drop Box Each

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  • The Texas Supreme Court sided with Governor Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to just one ballot drop off box each, arguing that the state has provided voters with plenty of options for the 2020 election. 
  • Also in Texas, a judge ruled against Abbott’s choice to exclude polling locations from the list of places where mask-wearing is mandatory. The judge agreed with critics, who said this discriminates against Black and Latino Texans who are more likely to be harmed by the pandemic. 
  • In other election news, the USPS was ordered to rescind rules limiting mail collection, with a judge saying late and extra trips should be performed to the maximum extent to ensure on-time election deliveries. 

Texas Supreme Court Sides with Abbott

The Texas Supreme Court sided with Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday, ruling in favor of his order that limited counties to just one absentee ballot drop-off location each. 

Abbott’s order was criticized by Democrats and others who said restricting the number of places voters can drop their ballots off, especially in the midst of a worsening pandemic, amounts to voter suppression.

A judge initially overturned Abbott’s order, saying the limit could confuse voters. Shortly after, a federal judge halted their decision and sided with Abbott. 

The state’s Supreme Court concluded that the order “provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code. It does not disenfranchise anyone.”

While the plaintiffs argued that it will require some voters to travel for a longer period of time, the court said that these voters do have other voting options, including sending their ballot via post. The court acknowledged that some fear the United States Postal Service may not deliver their ballot on time, but said that risk is “small.”

“In any event, the Constitution does not require a state to ‘afford every voter multiple infallible ways to vote,’ nor would it be possible for a state to foresee and eliminate every possible contingency that might prevent a given voter from casting a ballot,” the court said.

The stakes in Texas are growing as polling between President Donald Trump and his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, are getting tighter. The Cook Political Report moved Texas to its list of toss-up states on Wednesday morning, joining the likes of Florida and Georgia.

Judge Rules in Favor of Mask Wearing at Polls

This was not the only election-related decision handed out in Texas on Tuesday. A federal judge ruled that voters in the state should have to wear masks at polling locations, despite Abbott’s mandate making an exception for them. 

Abbott’s decision to not include polling places on the list of locations where mask wearing is mandatory left a lot of voters in the state feeling uneasy, especially Black and Latino voters. Throughout the country, Black and Latino communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. 

In Texas, according to the Texas Tribune, Hispanic Texans made up almost 49% of COVID-19 deaths in the state as of July 30, despite being just under 40% of the population. Black Texans made up 14% of deaths, despite being around 12% of the population. Meanwhile, white Texans have been dying from the disease at a lower rate. 

Because of this, Abbott’s exception was challenged for discriminating against Black and Latino voters. The judge agreed and said that the clause that provided the exception “violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it creates a discriminatory burden on Black and Latino voters..

“For this reason, exemption 8 is invalid and void,” the judge wrote. 

Other Election News

Other states have also seen significant rulings when it comes to voting. In Michigan, a judge struck down the Secretary of State’s ban on open carry at the polls on Election Day. The judge argued that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson did not follow the proper procedure to create an administrative rule when enacting the ban, which the judge believes should be necessary in this case. Benson already plans to overturn it. 

“As the state’s chief elections officer, I have the sworn duty to protect every voter and their right to cast the ballot free from intimidation and harassment,” she said to the Detroit Free Press. “I will continue to protect that right in Michigan.”

In South Carolina, a federal judge ruled that ballots in the state cannot be thrown out over mismatched signatures, claiming that the state does not have a consistent process for matching signatures. According to the Washington Post, the judge said that some counties had already disqualified ballots on signature issues without organization. He said that this is “obviously a significant burden” on voting rights. 

On a federal level, a judge made a decision in hopes of getting more absentee ballots delivered and counted for the election. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that as of Wednesday morning, the USPS must reverse its limitations on mail collection, which were enacted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an ardent supporter of President Trump. Those limitations went in place over the summer and limited late or extra trips, significantly slowing down down mail delivery time. These mail lags prompted Sullivan to order that they be rescinded. 

“USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for Election Mail,” Sullivan wrote.

“To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries. Any prior communication that is inconsistent with this instruction should be disregarded.”

See what others are saying: (Texas Tribune) (Detroit Free Press) (Washington Post)

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Increased COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Straining Medical Resources in the U.S.

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  • COVID-19 hospitalizations reached almost 43,000 on Monday, their highest point since August 19. A total of 36 states have seen at least a 5% increase in hospitalizations compared to last week.
  • In Utah, ICU occupancy hit nearly 70% and hospitals are prepared to start rationing ICU space this week or next. In El Paso, Texas, occupancy hit 100% and medical workers are taking patients to field or mobile units for care.
  • On top of this, some hospitals, including ones in Utah, are understaffed right now. Many hospital staffers are battling physical and emotional exhaustiong from dealing with the pandemic for seven months with no end in sight.

Hospitalizations Go Up

As coronavirus cases inch upwards across the country, hospitalizations are following, setting a trend that worries health experts heading into the winter. 

Over the past week, the United States has set its record for the highest single day of cases reported and the highest seven-day average of new cases. Nearly 43,000 hospitalizations were reported on Monday, the highest number since August 19. It is a staggering jump upward from the start of the month when hospitalizations were at 30,700.

CNBC reported that in 36 states, hospitalizations have risen by at least 5% compared to where they were just last week. The caseload is straining hospitals across the country, which are bracing for these spikes to get even worse. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, there has been a 157% increase in hospitalizations in Pennsylvania compared to this time last month. New Jersey has seen a 125% jump while Delaware saw 69% growth.

Hospitals and Local Governments Respond to Increases

In Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, 771 people have been hospitalized for the virus in the past two weeks, the highest number of any 14 day period since the start of the pandemic. There, the ICU occupancy hit 68.9% on Monday and state officials and hospital administrators are prepared to ration ICU space this week or next week. This means some ICU patients whose condition is worsening might be forced out of the unit. Older patients, who are more likely to die, will likely be forced out before younger ones. One doctor said capacity is being assessed “on a minute to minute basis, almost.”

The Texas Tribune reported that there has been a 300% increase in hospitalizations in El Paso over the last three weeks. ICU beds have reached 100% capacity and patients are now being taken to mobile and field units to be cared for. The city has put in place a 10:00 p.m. curfew to curb the spread. City officials are also encouraging citizens to stay home as much as possible over the next two weeks. 

Impact on Hospitals and Staff

Experts have long predicted that the virus would pick up in the colder months of the year. With such a steep case increase before winter has even arrived, health officials are worried about this trend. But with all these numbers trending upwards at alarming rates, there are a lot of health officials concerned. 

“This is a harbinger of a very tough winter that’s coming. I think hospitals are going to be very, very stressed this fall and winter,”  Dr. Bill Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University told CNBC.

On top of this, hospital staffers are suffering from COVID fatigue. Doctors and nurses have been dealing with the pandemic for the majority of the year with no end in sight. This has led to physical and emotional exhaustion. Some hospitals are also understaffed. 

“We’re down 20% to 30%,” Greg Bell, the president of the Utah Hospital Association told the Tribune. “Hundreds and hundreds of nurses are not able to work as they were [before] because of their own disease or infection in the family, or they’re moms and dads with school issues. Some are worn out, some are on leave because they’ve been doing this for seven months.”

See what others are saying: (CNBC) (Salt Lake Tribune) (Vox)

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