Washington Football Team President Testifies About Workplace Complaints
WASHINGTON — Congress took a deposition Tuesday from the former president of Washington, D.C.’s, professional football team as lawmakers investigate what some former employees claim was a toxic work environment.
Many of the allegations of widespread sexual harassment fell on former team president Bruce Allen, who previously denied them when questions were raised by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The committee is continuing to investigate the decadeslong workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders and the NFL’s failure to address it,” a committee spokesperson said in a written statement before Allen’s testimony. “Mr. Allen served in senior roles under team owner Dan Snyder for many years, so his testimony is important for the committee to fully understand these serious issues and advance reforms to protect workers in the future.”
Allen shifted the blame to team owner Daniel Snyder, who also denied wrongdoing. Snyder fired Allen in December 2019 after published reports that cheerleaders and other female staff members were subjected to sexual improprieties and lewd comments.
As the news reports mushroomed into a backlash against the team, Snyder is accused of conducting a “shadow investigation” to dig up damaging information on his critics, including Allen. He was president of the team for 10 years.
The shadow investigation was mentioned in a memo Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., wrote in June to her fellow members of the Oversight and Reform Committee.
“A former long-time employee described how the team’s culture ‘glorified drinking and womanizing,’ and recalled an instance when Mr. Snyder had pressured him to drink excessively. He explained that employees were afraid to speak out ‘because they had seen so many others lose their jobs,’” the memo says.
Allen has not commented publicly on what he told the committee during his 10-hour remote deposition. It was attended by lawyers and committee staff members but no media.
The committee also claims to have found evidence of financial misdeeds by Snyder and his top executives. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating, along with the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Virginia.
The Washington Commanders’ management allegedly withheld as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and hid money it was supposed to share with other NFL owners, according to the committee’s letter to the Federal Trade Commission.