DC Attorney General sues Washington Commanders, owner Dan Snyder and NFL for deceiving residents
By Jessica Schneider, Jacob Lev, Eric Levenson and David Close, CNNUpdated: Thu, 10 Nov 2022 18:40:45 GMTSource: CNNDC Attorney General Karl Racine announced a lawsuit against embattled Washington ComBy Jessica Schneider, Jacob Lev, Eric Levenson and David Close, CNN
Updated: Thu, 10 Nov 2022 18:40:45 GMT
DC Attorney General Karl Racine announced a lawsuit against embattled Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, the team and the NFL on Thursday, alleging they colluded to deceive DC residents about an NFL investigation into toxic workplace culture at the team and allegations of sexual assault.
"For years the team and its owner have caused very real and very serious harm and then lied about it to dodge accountability and to continue to rake in profits," Racine said Thursday. "So far they seem to have gotten away with it, but that stops today."
The lawsuit cites the District of Columbia's Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which gives the attorney general broad authority to hold individuals or a company accountable for misleading DC customers.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Snyder, along with team officials, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, worked to prevent DC residents from learning the truth about the ongoing investigation into the toxic work environment and sexual harassment within the Commanders organization.
CNN has reached out to the Commanders and the NFL for comment.
Snyder announced last week that he is considering a sale of the team and that he and his wife hired Bank of America Securities "to consider potential transactions."
The owner is accused of waging an interference campaign to cover up years of harassment, and the lawsuit concludes that the NFL allowed him to interfere.
The attorney general is now seeking unspecified financial penalties under the act for every incident in which all parties lied to DC residents dating back to July 2020. The attorney general's office says the penalties could be into the millions of dollars. The lawsuit also seeks a court order forcing the NFL to release all findings from the 10-month investigation into the Commanders' workplace culture.
The announcement is just the latest issue for the Commanders, the newly branded team mired in several major investigations. Once one of the NFL's premiere franchises, the team has had minimal success on the field and consistent controversies off the field over the last two decades under Snyder.
In 2020, 15 female former Washington employees and two journalists who covered the team accused team staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse, according to a report from the Washington Post. After an internal investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, the NFL fined the team $10 million, and Snyder handed control over the franchise's daily operations to his wife, Tanya Snyder.
Yet the NFL declined to publicly release the findings of the investigation, sparking Congress to get involved with a House Oversight Committee review. Commissioner Goodell testified before the panel in June that the Commanders' culture was "not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long."
Goodell said that the team had not received a written report from Wilkinson in order to preserve the confidentiality of those who had participated in the internal investigation but could release a "summary of the key findings" in the future "if appropriate."
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent over 40 former Commanders employees, released a statement praising the suit.
"Today's civil complaint filed by the DC Attorney General against the Washington Commanders, Dan Snyder, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell is further evidence of what we've long known: that both the Commanders and the NFL have engaged in deception and lies designed to conceal the team's decades of sexual harassment and abuse, which has impacted not only the victims of that abuse, but also consumers in the District of Columbia.
"The filing of this complaint also marks an important step in validating the experiences of the brave women and men who came forward and in achieving, for the first time, a level of transparency into the scope of the misconduct.
"For far too long, the NFL has actively concealed wrongdoing by the Washington Commanders and has shielded Mr. Snyder from accountability at every turn. The NFL must understand that sexual harassment and abuse cannot be tolerated or concealed. If Commissioner Goodell and the NFL are genuinely committed to protecting their employees, they would also publicly release the findings of the Wilkinson investigation and use those findings as a blueprint for creating safer workplaces throughout the NFL."