- 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
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)
Aurora Police Apologize for Drawing Weapons on Black Family in Mistaken Stop
- Police drew guns on a Black family in Aurora, Colorado on Sunday who they believed were in a stolen vehicle, ordering the group out of the car and facedown down on the ground.
- The passengers were girls between the ages of 6 and 17 and video shows them sobbing in fear during the incident, with at least two minors in handcuffs.
- The adult female driver was able to confirm that the car was not stolen and police explained that the car had the same plate information as a car reported stolen in a different state. They also blamed the mixup on the fact that the family’s car was reported stolen earlier this year, even though Aurora police returned it back to them a day later.
- The city’s new police chief apologized and offered them therapy resources. She also said officers followed protocol but should be allowed to use discretion to deviate in situations like this and has ordered her team to look at new training practices.
Police in Aurora, Colorado apologized Monday for drawing weapons on a Black family after mistaking their car for another stolen vehicle.
On Sunday, August 2, Brittney Gilliam decided to take her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister, and 14 and 17-year-old nieces out to get their nails done. Gilliam told CNN that her niece had just gotten back in the car after looking to see if the nail salon they wanted to go to was open. At this point, she and the girls were parked in a parking lot with the car turned off.
That’s when Aurora police pulled up behind the vehicle with guns drawn. Then, police allegedly yelled at the group to put their hands out of the window and get out of the car.
She said the family exited the vehicle and were told to lay face down on the ground. At that time, police handcuffed Gilliam, her 12-year-old sister, and 17-year-old niece. Gilliam claims that police would not explain why she was pulled over until she was handcuffed. Then, they pulled her away to verify her claim that the car was not stolen as the children remained on the ground.
A bystander named Jennifer Wurtz began recorded the incident after the family was handcuffed. The footage is about 12 and a half minutes long, but a shorter minute in a half-second clip went viral on Twitter. That clip shows the minors facedown on the floor sobbing as police try to keep onlookers away.
Eventually, police sit the children up and in the longer video, Wurtz can be heard pressing the officers about why they had drawn guns on children.
Police repeatedly asked her to stop interfering, however, they did say she had the right to film. Wurtz stopped pointing the phone towards the scene, but continued to criticize the stop and asked for the officers’ names.
As frustration from onlookers grew, one officer explained that this was a “high-risk stop” and that police were following procedure.
The onlookers were still angry about the policy being used against children and became angrier after learning that the car was in fact, not stolen.
What Caused the Confusion?
As far as what the mixup actually was, Gilliam explained that she had reported her car stolen in February, but that case was cleared up. In fact, her attorney told CNN that when her vehicle was stolen, it was actually returned to her the next day by Aurora police.
In a statement late Monday, Intern Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said that after the stop, police realized the car Gilliam was driving was not stolen. Instead, another vehicle with the same plate information but from a different state had been. The Associated Press reported that the vehicle was a motorcycle from Montana.
In her statement, Wilson said “The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped car was reported stolen. After realizing the mistake, officers immediately unhandcuffed everyone involved, explained what happened and apologized.”
“I have called (Gilliam’s) family to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized by yesterday’s events,” she continued. “I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover.”
Outrage and Apology
Still, that did little to put the community at ease, especially since the incident comes amid widespread frustration over how Black people are treated by police. Frustrations are especially high in Aurora, where police have faced security for the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. McClain was an unarmed Black man who was stopped by officers as he walked home after he was reported as a suspicious person in a ski mask.
During the confrontation, officers placed him in a chokehold and paramedics injected him with ketamine to sedate him. He then suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was declared brain dead days later before being taken off life support.
Just last month, two officers were fired for reenacting the chokehold in a photo near the memorial site for Elijah McClain A third officer was fired for not alerting supervisors about the photo while a fourth resigned before a disciplinary hearing about the incident.
So this latest incident piled on the existing outrage against the local department and police policies in general. And many, including Gilliam, felt that the stolen car mixup did not justify how the young girls were treated.
“That’s police brutality,” she told KUSA. “There’s no excuse why you didn’t handle it a different type of way. … You could have even told them, ‘Step off to the side let me ask your mom or your auntie a few questions so we can get this cleared up.’ ”
In her statement, Chief Wilson confirmed that a suspect in a stolen vehicle is a high-risk stop, and said officers followed procedures they are trained to carry out. However, she added that the department, “must allow our officers to have discretion and to deviate from this process when different scenarios present themselves.”
Wilson added that an internal investigation into this incident has been opened and said she had directed her team to look at new practices and training. Her promises to reexamine department practices are especially significant because that same Monday night, Aurora’s city council voted to make Wilson the city’s permanent police chief.
See what others are saying: (Denver Post) (CNN) (Sentinel Colorado)
260 Campers and Staffers at Georgia Summer Camp Tested COVID-19 Positive
- In Georgia, 260 people at a summer camp tested positive for the coronavirus in June, per a report from the CDC.
- In total, 597 Georgia residents were at the camp, meaning there was at least a 44% attack rate.
- Campers, as well as a good portion of the staff, were 17 and under. The vast majority of those who tested positive were aged 17 or under, contradicting the narrative that kids are less likely to get and spread COVID-19.
- Officials believe a variety of factors contributed to this outbreak, including campers not being required to wear masks, being lodged in close quarters, engaging in indoor activities, and participating in daily singing and cheering that likely promoted disease spread.
Campers Test Positive
In Georgia, 260 campers and staffers at an overnight summer camp tested positive for the coronavirus in June, according to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This data contradicts the narrative that children are less likely to fall ill with and spread COVID-19, which many are relying on in the push to open schools back up in the fall. According to the CDC, 597 Georgia residents were at the camp, meaning the camp had a 44% attack rate. That rate is likely even higher, as test results from just 58% of those at the camp were available.
While the CDC referred to the camp just as “Camp A,” many reports have since identified the camp as YMCA Camp High Harbour, which closed following the outbreak. The median age of campers there is 12, while the median age for staffers is 17. According to NBC News, 231 of those 260 people who tested positive were aged 17 or under.
The outbreak started when a teenage staff member left the camp after developing chills. The next day, that staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. The camp then began sending kids home until it was fully shut down three days later. It was recommended that everyone get tested for the virus and isolate if positive.
How Did the Outbreak Spread?
Officials believe that while the camp followed a good chunk of the CDC’s suggested safety guidelines, the size of the outbreak might be tied to the fact that the camp neglected to implement a few key rules. For example, while staff at the camp were required to wear masks, the roughly 360 campers were not. The camp also did not utilize ventilation protocols, like keeping windows and doors open to allow air to circulate. Activities took place both indoors and outdoors, including “daily vigorous singing and cheering” which could have promoted disease spread.
“The multiple measures adopted by the camp were not sufficient to prevent an outbreak in the context of substantial community transmission,” the CDC said in their report. “Relatively large cohorts sleeping in the same cabin and engaging in regular singing and cheering likely contributed to transmission.”
The CDC also believes that asymptomatic spread was common and factored into the high case rate. The organization also believes that it is possible that some of the cases could have been tied to outbreaks outside of the camp given the spikes the state of Georgia saw throughout June and July.
The biggest takeaway from this outbreak, though, is the way that the disease spread among young people. It has commonly been believed that children are not as susceptible to the virus as adults; however, as officials receive new data, that belief is being questioned.
“This investigation adds to the body of evidence demonstrating that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and, contrary to early reports, might play an important role in transmission,” the CDC wrote.
Questions of School Safety
This case is adding to concerns that there could be severe outbreaks when schools open up in the fall.
“We are not ready to have full in-person contact consisting of hundreds of students, faculty and staff with the expectation that no one spread or contracts COVID-19,” Dooly County Schools Superintendent Craig Lockhart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are not ready to return to in-person schooling and be highly confident that we can protect employees and students.”
Georgia in particular has seen rapid case spikes throughout the state. The safety of schools was further called into question on Monday when it was reported that 260 employees from Gwinnett County School District, the largest school district in the state, either tested positive or were exposed to the coronavirus. They are currently being excluded from work as a result.
It is unclear if these events will change the way the state handles its school reopening strategies or if new policies will be implemented as a result of them.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) (Washington Post)
Trump Administration Announces New DACA Restrictions
- The Trump administration has rolled back key aspects of DACA in order to review the future of the policy, including preventing new applicants and limiting other benefits for current recipients.
- In a memo, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said he was making the changes “in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.”
- Last month, the Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to end DACA, a move that put similar restrictions in place, including preventing new applicants.
- After numerous reports of new applicants being rejected, a federal judge ruled that the SCOTUS decision meant that DACA needed to be restored to its full status and that the application process must be reopened.
- As a result, the new decision by DHS appears to violate the appellate court’s decision and will almost certainly face legal challenges.
The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a series of new restrictions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) including prohibiting new applicants and limiting renewals of current recipients in a move that appears to directly violate a federal court ruling.
The move marks the latest attack by the Trump administration on the program, which was created via executive action by President Barack Obama in 2012 to help young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally before the age of 16, also known as DREAMers.
In September 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he was going to wind down DACA and blocked all new applications, claiming that it was unconstitutional because Obama acted outside his executive powers by creating the program without Congress’ approval.
The Supreme Court rejected that attempt last month in a 5-4 decision. Notably, the Court specifically did not say whether or not DACA was legal or illegal.
Instead, it said Trump could not end DACA because the administration did not give adequate legal reasoning to justify scrapping the program; however, the court did not prevent the Trump administration from getting rid of the program if it came up with more sound legal reasoning.
While Trump did say that he still wanted to end DACA, most legal experts believed that SCOTUS ruling meant that the program, which had been diminished under Trump, had to be restored to its full version before Trump rescinded it in September 2017.
Not only would that mean that the 650,000 DREAMers whose futures had been in limbo for nearly three years would now have security, it also meant that the Trump administration would now have to reopen DACA applications for the estimated 300,000 young immigrants who qualified for the program but were unable to apply since 2017.
But about a month after the Supreme Court decision, numerous reports began to circulate claiming that the Trump administration was rejecting new DACA applications.
As a result, on July 17, U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm ruled that the Supreme Court decision meant DACA had to be restored to its full status before Trump tried to scrap it, meaning the Trump administration must accept new applicants.
In a court hearing Friday, Trump administration officials said for the first time that they had not “granted nor rejected” any applications, but instead, had put them all “on hold” while the administration decides on the future of the DACA program; however, they also said that some applications were rejected because of an error like missing information or an incorrect fee.
Judge Grimm responded to that new information by condemning the Trump administration for not explaining to applicants why they were being rejected. He also criticized them for not updating the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website, which still said the government was not accepting new applications over a month after the Supreme Court ruling.
The Trump administration said that the website had “outdated and inaccurate information” that didn’t reflect their current policies. That did not satisfy Grimm.
“That is a problem,” he said. “As for the inaccuracy on the website, that has to change and that should be able to change very quickly… It creates a feeling and a belief that the agency is disregarding binding decisions by appellate and the Supreme Court.”
Grimm also told the administration that it must clarify the status of the program in the next 30 days.
That clarification came in the form of a memo issued by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Tuesday, where he announced that he was “making certain immediate changes to the DACA policy to facilitate my thorough consideration of how to address DACA in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Those changes included rejecting all new DACA applicants, rejecting almost all requests for current DACA recipients to travel outside the U.S. except in “exceptional circumstances,” and requiring current DACA recipients to renew their deferred action and work authorizations every year instead of every two years.
Wolf did say that he was “determined to give careful consideration to whether the DACA policy should be maintained, rescinded, or modified,” but added that based on the evidence he has seen: “I have concluded that the DACA policy, at a minimum, presents serious policy concerns that may warrant its full rescission. At the same time, I have concluded that fully rescinding the policy would be a significant administration decision that warrants additional careful consideration.”
Wolf then went on to outline several reasons why he believes the program is problematic.
First, he said he has “serious doubts” about the legality of offering undocumented immigrants protection from deportation. He argued that Congress should be responsible for deciding legal protections for immigrants and that the executive action that created DACA should not be considered permanent.
Wolf also said he was worried about sending “mixed messages” on the enforcement of immigration laws.
“DACA makes clear that, for certain large classes of individuals, DHS will at least tolerate, if not affirmatively sanction, their ongoing violation of the immigration laws,” he said.
“I am deeply troubled that the message communicated by non-enforcement policies like DACA may contribute to the general problem of illegal immigration in a manner that is inconsistent with DHS’s law enforcement mission.”
Wolf’s memo is highly significant not only because it represents the Trump administration’s first official attack on DACA since the Supreme Court ruling, but also because the ruling appears to directly go against Grimm’s ruling. As a result, it is almost certain to face legal challenges.
“We obviously have no choice but to go back to court,” Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer who argued against the Trump administration’s move to get rid of DACA in the Supreme Court told the New York Times. “It was illegal the first time, and now it’s a constitutional crisis. It’s as if a Supreme Court decision was written with invisible ink.”
The Trump administration is already on the defense. On Tuesday, unidentified administration officials gave different and even contradictory explanations to different media outlets.
One official told the Wall Street Journal that the interim rules do not go against Grimm’s order because they “constitute a new DHS policy that replaces the DACA cancellation invalidated by the Supreme Court.”
But another administration official also told ABC News that the memo did not create a new program, but served as an “intervening action” while the administration reviewed the policy.
Right now, an exact timeline is unclear. Officials declined to answer whether or not the review would be completed before the election in November when asked by the Times.
Many experts believe that while Trump is positioning DACA as a key immigration issue in the election, he is unlikely to move on the question before then.
DACA is a complicated issue for Trump, who has long said the program is illegal, but DACA has been unusually popular among conservatives. Last month, a Pew Research Center poll found that 74% of Americans said they support the program, including 54% of Republicans.
By making this announcement but pushing this issue, Trump still can still energize his anti-immigrant base, while also avoiding at least some backlash from people who support the DREAMers—a point Trump himself seemed to hit on that point in a press conference Tuesday.
“We are going to make DACA happy and the DACA people and representatives happy, and also end up with a fantastic merit-based immigration system,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling gave him “more power,” though the decision said nothing about extending executive powers.
Over the last few weeks, Trump has also said that he will deal with DACA through an executive order on immigration. While his team has tried to backtrack those comments, the remarks are still quite ironic, given the fact Trump’s entire reasoning for getting rid of the program is because he claims it was executive overreach.